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RIBA Wessex seeks architects for new 'Local Authority Engagement Group'

06 January 2020

RIBA Wessex has launched a call for expressions of interest to appoint architects to a new regional ‘Local Authority Engagement Group’. The mandate of the working group is to create a mutually supportive interface between practising architects and local authority colleagues, as a vehicle for sharing best practice, research, policy thinking, advocating good design and climate solutions.

The RIBA Planning Group that operates as a sub-committee of the RIBA Practice and Professions Committee are tasked with advising upon matters affecting planning in the UK. This includes responding to government consultations relating to planning policy and the environment, and identifying issues affecting architects in practice.

A benefit of this regional initiative is that discussions and consultations held at national level can be communicated directly back to members locally, thereby strengthening the relationship between the national executive and grass roots members. It is intended that the RIBA Wessex Group would feed into the national group and vice versa.

RIBA Wessex Chair, Tom Bell, said: “The establishment of this platform will formalise existing RIBA relations with local authorities across the region, but also offer opportunities for those authorities that we are not engaged with, to utilise our members' local and regional expertise.

“Initially, the group seeks to support planning policy, emerging design codes and improve knowledge-sharing dissemination across the region. However, with a number of councils and architects declaring ‘climate emergencies’, this group's mandate could evolve to act as a Regional Expert Advisory and Advocacy Group, that engages with local authority on a more far-reaching brief, facilitating support for policy-makers on key decisions that impact ‘People, Places and Planet’.”

RIBA Wessex and RIBA South West will be delivering a 'People, Places, Planet' programme across 2020. A key role for the new group will be the promotion of the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge and 2020 programme of informative events to local authorities, particularly where consultations on local plans and relevant policy are open, and where local authorities are actively seeking climate solutions.

Matters for discussion and activity may include:

  • discussing responses to local planning policy consultations
  • promoting the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge and related guidance
  • seeking to improve working relationships between RIBA members and local planners
  • inviting speakers to attend covering relevant planning topics of local interest
  • sharing RIBA research and policy reports with local authorities
  • encouraging and facilitating co-operation with planners in local government

At this early stage, we are seeking expressions of interest from RIBA chartered members in being part of an RIBA Wessex Local Authority Engagement Group (Bath, Bristol, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire). A candidate with reasonable knowledge and experience of the planning system would be selected to chair the Group.

Group members are expected to attend 4 meetings annually and to respond to occasional email requests for input into RIBA responses to government consultation. The meetings are an opportunity to discuss current industry and policy issues, and to provide input in relevant RIBA activities. The group will be member-led, with administrative support from the regional executive team.

Please email if you are interested in joining this group, or wish to be considered for the role of chair. 

RIBA Wessex Chair, Tom Bell

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