UWE Bristol graduate President of the Royal Town Planning Institute in its centenary year

Issue date: 21 January 2014

Cath Ranson sitting in the Royal Town Planning Institute's Presidents chair.

UWE Bristol graduate Cath Ranson has been inaugurated as President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in its centenary year in central London. Cath is the first President to have graduated from the former Bristol Polytechnic (now UWE Bristol) where she studied part time for a postgraduate diploma in Town and Country Planning, graduating in 1983.

The University has produced three of the 99 presidents of the RTPI amongst its academic staff but this is the first time that a graduate from UWE Bristol has joined the ranks in this highly valued and prestigious role. There have only been five female presidents and by next year when academic Janet Askew takes on the mantle two of these women will have come from UWE Bristol.

The RTPI is the UK's leading professional body for spatial, sustainable and inclusive planning and is the largest planning institute in Europe with over 23,000 members.

The news release from the RTPI stated that Cath emphasised the unique opportunity the centenary affords her Presidency and the profession saying, “The Centenary is about our heritage and our future, spanning the serious and the celebratory. We must use the centenary, not just for our own reflection, understanding and celebration, but to raise the profile and improve public understanding of planning.”

During her inaugural speech she outlined her aims during the year to improve public, interdisciplinary and Government understanding of the power of planning for good; to empower the Institute by more active member engagement; to reinforce the Institute's role in leading thinking and brokering dialogue; to set the context for the long term vision of the profession for our second century and to be proud of planners and proud of planning.

She also welcomed the incoming Vice President, Janet Askew, she said, “I am also delighted that in Janet Askew, our newly elected vice President, we will have, for the first time ever women Presidents in consecutive years.”

Janet Askew said, “Women are on the ascendancy in the built environment professions, with women at the helm of the RTPI for two years running, alongside female presidents of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation, and in 2013, the Royal Institute for British Architecture. Town and country planning has never been more important than it is now, with Government engaging with the profession to find solutions to create more sustainable and higher quality environments. Cath Ranson will be leading many initiatives to promote planning during her presidential term of office, some of which will be in the South West, as well as the promotion of planning education.”

Cath Ranson is a Development Plans and Conservation Manager for Pembrokeshire County Council and Chair of the Special Fund Panel for Planning Summer School. She has an honours degree in Geology (University of Wales, Swansea), a postgraduate diploma in Town and Country Planning (Bristol Polytechnic now UWE Bristol) and a post-graduate certificate in Leadership for Collaboration (Bangor University). She has had a varied and interesting career with local authorities in South West Wales, the Welsh Government and Snowdonia National Park Authority, spanning planning policy, urban regeneration, economic development, environmental project implementation, research and improvement. Cath has lived in Wales all her adult life and has studied Welsh language and culture.

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