Joint Planning and Law Conference, Oxford – September 2019
by Antony Booth BA (Hons) MSc
Beginning in the evening of Friday 13th September, and running through to lunchtime of Sunday 15th September, the 47th annual Joint Planning and Law Conference took place on the grounds of Oxford University. Two IPS team members attended to enjoy a weekend of talks on the theme “Shining a Light’’, from some of the most experienced and influential planning and law based speakers, as well as fine food and the odd glass of ‘bubbly’.
The event began at around 1700hrs on Friday with the ‘Newcomers Welcome Tea’ at the New College, Oxford. This gave both ‘first-time-attendees’ from IPS the opportunity to converse with a range of attendees, from barristers, to solicitors, to committee members and local government officers.
The first black tie dinner of the weekend commenced in the medieval New College Dining Hall, followed by the keynote speaker; Roger Madelin CBE (Head of Canada Water Development at British Land).
The day started with breakfast and a return to the impressive New College Dining Hall before a short walk through the core of Oxford’s historic and tourist filled city centre to the Oxford Union for the day’s talks.
The first lecture began with a talk addressing Healthy Planning from Sir Malcolm Grant CBE. The topics addressed were supported by an array of statistics and graphs which sought to address issues such as better integrating health and planning to deliver widespread improvement which can alleviate increasing pressure on NHS resources.
Following a short coffee break, talks resumed with Louise Wyman (Mayor’s Design Advisor at the West Midlands Combined Authority) discussing landscape-led placemaking ‘at scale’. This focussed on instances of high-quality design and poor practice in creating public realm and shared spaces. This session explored the history of landscape architects and the evolutionary process the development of public realm spaces had undertaken, including more recently, improving areas of poor architectural design with high quality public realm. This talk also centred on the increasing importance and prominence of delivering garden village principles, as well as exploring the future potential of urban farming, sky gardens and improving interior green spaces.
A trio from Gordan Ingram Associates (GIA) discussed existing BRE guidance to protect residential daylight and the limitations to guidance and standards which is undeliverable in cities. A software programme developed within the previous three years: VU.CITY was demonstrated to the attendees with an absorbed and intrigued response from the audience. The programme could assess impacted viewpoints from individual windows, preserve protected long-range views, assess the impact of sunlight (adjusted by time and season) on buildings, trial the appropriateness of new building scales on the wider cityscape, amongst many more applications. However, although this may prove a valuable tool in the future of planning, the likelihood for full access and understanding of the programme’s potential merits, by applicants and local authorities alike is likely to be a long term, difficult and drawn out process.
Following this, an Oxford based Indian restaurant provided a choice of chicken, fish and vegetarian curry options for lunch (1300hrs). This was very much enjoyed by all those in attendance, sitting outside enjoying the mid-September sunshine.
Following lunch, Martin Tugwell (Programme Director of England Economic Heartland & CIHT president) delivered a talk on Strategic Planning and the importance of collaborative working to deliver infrastructure improvements to facilitate economic growth. Importance was attached to encourage political leaders to work collaboratively, particularly in a current climate which sub-regional planning has returned to the national agenda. This will require more legislation to be effective.
The final talk of the day focussed on a wide range of Environmental and Planning Case Law. David Elvin QC discussed the current political situation in the UK and speculated the implications for environmental regulations and the Office for Environmental Protection (ONP) following Brexit (in the assumption Brexit occurs).
Saturday afternoon was rounded off with two networking sessions at the Oxford Union and a champagne reception at the New College Gardens prior to the Saturday evening black tie dinner. Dr Louise Brooke-Smith OBE delivered the after-dinner speech (Non-Executive Director of Consilio Consultancy Ltd), and was followed by drinks and dancing into the early hours.
Two lectures on the Sunday morning at the Oxford Union brought the Joint Planning and Law Conference weekend to a close. Daniel Farrand (Mischon de Reya LLP) delivered a talk on Planning Enforcement. Particular focus was on Part VII of the TCPA1990 and the process of enforcement following the initial breach of planning control. The discussion concluded by looking to the future and assessing the increasing prevalence of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 by local authorities and the relationship it has forged with planning.
The final talk before the close of the conference was delivered by Estelle Dehon (Cornerstone Barristers), addressing the key issues emerging from recent case law. Focus was initially drawn to address the interpretation of conditions, Section 106 agreements and progress with CIL. The lecture concluded by discussing practice and procedure for fairness, consistency, time limit extensions and applications for costs.
IPS would like to thank the organisers of the 47th annual Joint Planning and Law Conference: The Law Society, The Bar Council, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Town planning Institute. The weekend covered a wide variety of topics and excellent opportunity to make new connections with colleagues in different areas of planning practice, in the impressive setting of New College Oxford. The IPS team look forward to attending next year.