RTPI member Alison Coster reports from the first RTPI London Planning Conference, held in Stratford.
The 28th July was an important day. It signalled 365 days until the beginning of the Olympic Games 2012 and the first day of the RTPI President’s visit to the London Region.
To celebrate these two events, RTPI London organised their conference to provide a unique insight into the regeneration of Stratford and to enable discussions into the implications of the emerging Localism Bill on the Olympic legacy.
It was an excellent and well received day with talks from a number of influential people who have been working hard to ensure that Stratford benefits from the significant investment which this area has needed since the early 1980’s but never materialised until the Olympic bid was won in 2005.
It was clear from the conference that by 28th July 2012,Stratford will be an amazing place to live and work, it will be new, exciting and vibrant with places for sport and socialising. It’s so clean and fresh that even the soil has been washed! I wonder if people around the world will have to adjust the setting on their TV screen becauseStratford will look so shiny and bright!
Those who attended the day were lucky enough to don their hard hats or get out their passports and start exploring the area with the expert tour guides including Vivienne Ramsay from the Olympic Delivery Authority, Jon Watson from Westfield and Jamie Hodge from the Stratford Renaissance Partnership. I visited Westfield sopping centre, set to open on 13th September 2011 and was impressed to learn about the valuable role s106 contributions had paid in training local people, supporting entrepreneurs, providing a significant amounts of art to improve the public realm and the continued promotion of Stratford International station, all of which would sit alongside the provision of shops, restaurants and social facilities in what will be the largest shopping centre in Europe.
After hearing the presentations and going out and about around Stratford, it was clear what a mammoth task preparing for the Olympics has been and what a critical role planners have played in making it all happen, providing the central point for meeting the needs of populations and businesses, significantly improving the environment and providing a location that can be shown off, with pride, to the world.
For me, what was most impressive was that the speakers who by and large have been working on the project since the very beginning expressed a continued buzz for the projects they are involved in and are committed to providing an Olympic legacy for Stratford. The Olympics and the wider regeneration of Stratford has become a real showcase for the amazing work of the planning industry.
The conference also opened the opportunity for some detailed discussion about the constraints and opportunities of the emerging planning system and the work which needs to be done to ensure the delivery of the legacy with delegates providing an invaluable contribution on their opinions of the impacts of the National Planning Policy Framework.
For those who missed out, Stratford is well worth a visit!
The RTPI London Planning Conference 2011 was sponsored by AECOM.
Presentations from the event will be available shortly at http://www.rtpi.org.uk/rtpi_london