Alister Scott

Alister Scott

Professor Alister Scott at the School of Property, Construction and Planning at Birmingham City University

There has been much recent criticism in the press about planners and town hall officials being the enemies of enterprise and investment. Newly appointed Chair in Spatial Planning and Governance at Birmingham City University, Professor Alister Scott, sees these populist attacks as part of a wider problem of the failure to understand the planning system.

He said: “The current sport of planner bashing is quite a fun game if you are a politician, yet in my view it is hardly conducive to a mature debate about what the actual barriers to enterprise and investment are and how me might develop a positive way forward to achieve the kind of sustainable development we now need for England.”

Professor Scott champions strategic planning and has recently conducted a workshop exploring the lessons learnt from 40 years of Regional Planning in the West Midlands.  This forms part of a wider research project investigating how planners and policy makers can plan more positively for change within the rural-urban fringe.

He added: “Many planners I work with and talk to are there because the care deeply about the future of the West Midlands. They are not anti-growth; anti-environment or anti-enterprise and have developed skills, expertise, methods and networks with built and natural environment professionals to stimulate development set within carefully prescribed frameworks.  Good planning creates exciting places to live; work and play in and also protects valuable greenspace and heritage. This jigsaw is complex and is about a range of professionals working together to make things happen in the right places: the definition of spatial planning.”

Birmingham City University has a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses dedicated to training the planners of tomorrow and Professor Scott believes that a career in planning offers a highly exciting and challenging role far removed from the current portrayal of planning by some individuals.

“I accept that planning is a process and outcome that many people do not fully understand.  I accept that universities have failed to show people the true value of planning and planners.  So let us understand that planners are part of the solution to creating a new enterprise culture based on accurate assessment of needs of communities, environment and economy which then shape a long term view of the kind of place we want England to be. It strikes me that making and implementing such plans will be difficult, challenging and exciting and helping train and equip planners with those skills is why I do my job,” Professor Scott added.

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Alister Scott

Alister Scott

School of Property, Construction and Planning at Birmingham City University