The planner

'Planning is about fairness and sorting out the muddle.' 'They plan, they project into the future.' 'Planning attracts people who want to make a difference. They have a social conscience, but are depressed at being worn down.' 'They have become grey-haired, especially those in planning control. Spatial planners are less grey because they feel they are shaping the city.' 'But the way the system now works is that increasingly the private consultants are doing the creative stuff, leaving the public sector planners to deal with the drudgery.' 'The cliché of the planner is that they are bearded, a bit left-wing and have a social agenda.' 'They are worthy and their origins compared to an architect are more likely to be working-class.' 'They are downtrodden, spending their time holding back the floodgates; but they generate quite a lot of sympathy since they are treated quite badly, and more and more of them are thinking, "I've had enough, I can barely cope." And there is a lot of exasperation that the government is not making their life easier, the whole system is under-resourced -so the system can't work.' 'There is a huge gulf between the best and worst of planners, and the outside world can't understand why planning procedures can not be business-driven.' 'I understand the accountability issues, but why are the processes so slow?' 'Planners are quite defensive, they stand between a rock and a hard place - the local community says that you don't listen, and the developers say that you don't act.' 'Architects see planners as dull, dowdy, bureaucratic, nit-picking, with a lack of imagination.' 'Planners and architects are in an adversarial position. The planner decides what the architect can't do.' 'Planners are very processy, they go step by step.' 'They have a tidy mind and tidy, unflashy dress. In fact they are a bit anal.' 'The surveyor sees the planner as bureaucratic, with a lack of a sense of realities, a bit self-serving and focused on committees.' 'Planning in itself tends to rely on analysis and objectively seeing what the problem is; there is a particular twist in developmental control - it is reactive; it has not got a huge amount of creativity; there is too much emphasis on rules, looking at others. It's not instinctive. There's less trust in terms of planners trusting their own judgement. These planners don't speculate, they like to assess others.' 'Actually, most of the time it is not the planners who are to blame but the local politicians who hide behind them.' 'Politicians see planners as servants, as servile staff, handling the brunt end of complaints and consultation.' 'Planners try to read the politician's mind so don't dare step out of line and so take less risks.' 'Planners should free themselves.' 'They do have a mindset - to some extent. Planners like to locate in space - they have this in common with geographers and architects. They are not comfortable unless they can see things in two-dimensional form, and they like to think longer term. In the past, say 40 years ago, they connected with social planners, with people like Norman Dennis or Michael Young.' 'You can date-stamp planners: first there is the 60s mindset - this was their high water mark; then in the 80s they were clamped down upon - they were seen as interventionists and intervention was a bad word. I don't think they have quite recovered yet.' 'Planners feel disempowered. They were more confident some while back. They used to be about big-picture vision - now less so.' 'Thirty years ago they had big thoughts. Who thinks the big thoughts about cities now? Some architects, less the planners.' 'There has been a certain loss of status. This affects who comes into the profession, their quality is less than good enough.' 'Planners used to be creators of development, rather than controllers of process.' 'The 60s crowd had a statist attitude; planners were civil servants in all but name, but were pursuing a public agenda for the public good. Now there is a much more open situation and a recognition that the private and voluntary sectors have a role. Now the profession is very porous. They move around more between sectors.' 'In getting a broader approach going, planners have a slight advantage. More of them have recognized that a team approach is necessary - it is part of their role to search for consensus.' 'Yet planners feel they are everybody's scapegoat, they cause delays, they take forever, they feel under siege. The word planning is tarnished. The only TV programme with them in it is Blot on the Landscape.' 'This makes the profession attract a certain type of person - the ones that service the mud worms. At times they are people who can't be bothered to move on.' 'They have some visual knowledge, but weren't good at art, so they like to fall back on rules - they are a like civil bureaucrats.'

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