Why more architects should be planners

Michael Tsoukaris

The RIBA needs to do much more to support people who make the move, argues Michael Tsoukaris

I have always been aware of a professional tension that exists between planners and architects but I always saw it as a healthy rivalry. However, I will never forget the anguish of a senior planning inspector and RIBA member who presided over an inquiry where I was the witness for the council.

Here was a planning inspector and an architect with the power to change London’s skyline forever – an unashamed champion of good design with more than 30 years’ experience – who felt there was no place for him at the RIBA. I realised that the cause of his anguish was that, while the RIBA promotes the work of architects, it does not offer any professional recognition to those who may have expanded beyond the profession into a related field. There is no space in the RIBA for architect planners.

Like it or not, in order to implement their designs and fulfil their architectural visions, architects need to get planning permission. The planning system is the semi-judicial environment that governs property rights and the platform for architecture in the UK. So why does the RIBA not promote a more thorough knowledge of planning among architects and what has led to the emergence of the professional architect planner?

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