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The Town Planning Market & The Future of Virtual Planning Committees

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The Town Planning Market & The Future of Virtual Planning Committees

​The town planning team at Carrington West are getting ready to present at the RTPI’s “The Planner Live” online event towards the end of this month. In preparation we have surveyed influential candidates and clients and it has been very insightful to hear their opinions on how the Town Planning market is going to look over the next 12 months. During the RTPI presentation we will reveal the results and discuss whether or not being in the office 9-5 is a thing of the past and how long it will take the recruitment market in planning to get back on track. The presentation is free to attend and you can register to attend and ask questions here

The spread of COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our everyday lives and our ability to adapt, change and learn as we go has been paramount to the helping the economy start to get back on track. The introduction of Virtual Planning Committees has been key, and these have now been implemented across almost all my clients. From my discussions with clients and candidates over the past few weeks, the most important thing, aside from having a good internet connection, is that they are chaired effectively and efficiently. The chair of the meeting must be able to lead and ensure the appropriate person is speaking at any given time, but to also ensure that valuable information is not missed from others.

As with most meetings, for it to run smoothly a clear agenda is required. When running a virtual meeting it is vitally important to ensure everyone knows exactly what is being discussed, especially if someone loses signal and must re-join the meeting. I think our candidates and clients learnt very early on that having the meeting room closed or only available to join by invite was a must to ensure “ internet trolls” weren’t able to get involved and to distract or ruin the meeting. Although how do you determine who should be in the meeting when some agents and residents not being able to get involved?

I understand that these meetings can now be even longer and can be very tiring, so it is definitely worth regular breaks to ensure concentration is kept throughout.

I want to find out what your opinions and hear about some of the experiences you have had during the pandemic.  What has worked well and what could be done better moving forward? The questions I am keen to hear back on are:

How often do you think Virtual Planning Meetings should happen?     
With it no longer being a legal requirement for all members of the committee to be present, who should or who shouldn’t be involved?

Has anything strange happened in a meeting you have been involved in?

Overall have the meetings been a success?

Finally, once we get back to a normality will committee meetings continue to be virtual or will they go back to being face-face?

From everyone I have spoken with, most of the meetings seem to have been a great success. Applications within the councils are still being determined showing the ability of planning departments and councillors to keep the planning process going during these challenging times.

I take my hat off to all town planners who have continued to work throughout this crazy period and who have adapted to ensure the industry stays on track.

For more information please contact Kevin O'Shea