Peter Murray

Saturday, 22 September, 11:30 – 12:30

Patricia Brown 
and Dr Jessica Ferm discover - How has central London changed in the last 20 years? Why do some boroughs look so different to each other? Why does local plan-making take so long, and why is it important? What is the role of design in the planning system?

The planning system is a complex world of jargon-filled regulations, inscrutable maps and emotionally charged meetings. It is inhabited by an unseemly mixture of politicians, developers and consultants, with ordinary local people often bearing the brunt of their deals in the high streets and neighbourhood roads where we live. It is often blamed for blighting our beloved places with ugly buildings, and yet is similarly accused of holding back the development we need to meet pent-up housing demand.

Planning is one of the most visible and potent out-workings of our democracy. It is the forum that safeguards by law our rights as citizens to influence the places we live and work in the city.

How then do we engage with the planning system? Why did some parts of London end up the way they did? What (or who) are the main forces at work in shaping urban form? How can we value the past while thinking about London's future? The Saturday Planning School will be a forum for discussing these issues in the midst of a rapidly changing London. As the city sees unprecedented changes in infrastructure provision, physical growth and demographic change, what does a well-functioning planning system look like?

Patricia Brown
is Director of Central, a niche consultancy centred on the dynamics of cities and the process of achieving change. Central advises business and civic leaders on partnerships, developments and projects to create thriving places, economies and business. She led the development of the first BIDs, and Legible London, as well as lobbying for the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square. Patricia is Vice Chair of the British Property Federation’s Development Committee and was previously Chair of the London Festival of Architecture and Deputy Chair of the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group, helping to lead its Good Growth Agenda. Patricia works across the UK, as well as New York where she is an adviser to Times Square Alliance and a consultant to Columbia University’s Centre for Urban Real Estate.


Dr Jessica Ferm is a Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, where she teaches and researches on the intersections between spatial planning and the economy. She has published on the topics of affordable workspace and planning for industry in both academic and trade journals. Jessica is active in planning practice and policy in London, and is a member of Just Space Economy and Planning, the London Planning and Development Forum, and the GLA Industrial and Logistics Sounding Board. Prior to becoming a lecturer, she worked for 10 years in both private and public practice for Urban Practitioners and the London Borough of Enfield. Her co-edited book, Planning Practice: Critical Perspectives from the UK, was published in 2018 by Routledge and includes her own chapters on Plan-making and Planning for Economic Progress.

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