CAP YP Webinar ‘Planning for our children’s, children, children’- Thoughts

On Thursday, we had our first CAP YP Webinar. It went superbly with over 20 people listening in and 50 people across the Commonwealth registered, some who expressed interest to listen after the session. Thanks to CAP for organising the logistics for this event, especially to Michel and Christian for hosting us.

The presentation was given by Pam Ewen who has been in charge of the Strategic Development Planning Authority for the Dundee and Perth City Region in Scotland which put together the TAYplan, which begun in 2009.  Within 3 years TAYplan won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) overall UK award for Excellence in Planning, the Silver Jubilee Cup. Pam is Convenor of RTPI in Scotland during 2015.

’Planning for our children’s, children’s, children’ set out the importance of involving young people and how they can shape the future of their places. The presentation explored the different ways in which TAYplan has engaged with young people and the success this has had. The presentation intended to share good practice and to stimulate discussion with young planners across the Commonwealth and other areas of good practice.

Pam highlighted some the different techniques that were used for both Primary and Secondary school children. One of my favourite points was not actually using the word ‘planning’- I think by getting children to think strategically about the place that surrounds them, the issues they encounter and what they want to see in the future. By not reflecting the negative connotation that older people associate with planning I think this has allowed TAYplan to engage children effectively in not only thinking about future development but to show them what a career in planning could actually be about.

This is further reflected in the ‘Placemakers’ scheme which I think is what we need to do more of across the UK, but across the Commonwealth too, to promote the profession to young people who are looking to impact social, environmental and economic issues that we tackle as Town Planners. This allows them to see from a young age, before University, the importance a profession like ours has on all areas of society. For me, we need to shout more loudly about what we do as planners and what we achieve. It is arguably the only way we can keep ensuring polices across all levels of government that as humans we need to deliver sustainable development and sustainable growth in all facets of life.

The Youth Camp’s reflect great practice. By getting children from different backgrounds, to discuss issues, but also using the Placemakers to encourage their peers to shape place reflects what is required to improve participation from this very underrepresented group in the planning process. The Youth Camp’s for me reflect good practice in getting people to input into the planning process. Pam did highlight issues that myself I have encountered- getting the initial contacts and footholds in the community to make this effective. It is clear that TAYplan have done this effectively and this is something we need to learn from.

I think Pam’s conclusions on what a difference engagement has made need to be repeated:

  • Young people’s views directly influenced the content of the Main Issues Report, for example health and active travel.
  • Schools, youth groups, individuals, community groups are now better informed and continue to be engaged with TAYplan and Tactran in helping to shape how their places could change.
  • TAYplan’s profile has been further enhanced through events and media resulting in further engagement such as the association of geography teachers event.
  • Overall, this project demonstrated positive results for the future of our region, shaped by those who live, invest and study

For me the key issue of health that was identified by the children involved was very interesting. This is a very current area of planning here in the UK, which needs to be developed further in relation to Public Health and Planning. I think if children are thinking about this issue, it illustrates the importance of consulting this group. It gives further justification for policy makers and decision makers to ensure that they are including young people in development planning consultation processes.

In terms of further techniques, using technology to involve children is a great way to make consultation fun but also for them to become more engaged. The use of Minecraft by TAYplan aimed to build capacity amongst young people to enable them to become active citizens. By aiming to  show children the art of drawing but also by helping them to develop these ideas into 3D models, I think it gives children the opportunity to show their vision and make them feel useful in the development process.

The final, and for me the most important part of what we need to develop, is to make planning a part of the education curriculum. Pam mentioned this in relation to the work she was doing with primary school children. By linking to geography projects, history projects or design and technology projects I believe that not only would children become more engaged with planning and development, but will also help us promote this important profession to future young planners.

Thanks to Pam and TAYplan for sharing their ideas and practice with CAP. You can listen to the webinar (Webinar 5) and others at http://caribbeanplannersassociation.org/webinars/

If you have any further comments, ideas or things that other planners could learn from please post below and let’s get discussing and making young people a focal point of the Planning process.

Post by Viral Desai

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