Peter Murray

Saturday, 15 September, 11:30 – 12:30

Claire Bennie
and Lorraine Hughes explore - How dense should we plan? What are the principles of good high density housing? Why do big developments take so long in the planning system? What makes a good masterplan?

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?

Claire Bennie is Director of Municipal, a new consultancy which helps visionary people put thought, care, ambition and quality back into housing. Amongst other projects, Municipal is working with igloo and Nationwide Building Society to direct a new housing development in Swindon. Claire spent 11 years at London housing association Peabody, latterly as Development Director, leading an award-winning programme of 5000 new build homes. Claire pioneered smarter procurement at Peabody to achieve high quality built results as well as nurturing SMEs. Claire previously worked as an architect at Proctor and Matthews Architects on several housing schemes, including a phase of Greenwich Millennium Village. Claire is a panel member at Design South East and chairs Design Review at Brighton and Hove as well as Kingston councils. Claire is also a Mayor’s Design Advocate.



Lorraine Hughes is a Senior Director in CBRE’s Planning Team and has over 23 years’ experience as a planning consultant.  She had advised on a number of large and complex development projects navigating successful outcomes through the planning system, formulating appropriate strategies, negotiating applications and acting as an expert witness. Previous projects include a number of Crossrail’s Over Sites in central London and also Wood Wharf to the east of the Canary Wharf estate, securing permission for a high density masterplan scheme for a mixed use development of over 650,000sqm. 

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