On November 27th, the SAPER project held its second steering committee meeting. External attendees included: Dr Riette Oosthuizen, partner in planning at HTA Design LLP, Prof. Cliff Hague, emeritus professor of planning and spatial development at Heriot-Watt University and freelance researcher and author, Paul Watson, independent planning consultant and former strategic director for regeneration and development at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Clive Harridge, secretary-general of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), Rebecca Farr, principal development planning officer at Birmingham City Council, Jacob Bonehill, strategic delivery advisor at West Midlands Combined Authorities, Andrew Close, head of careers, education and professional development at the RTPI and Dr Patricia Noxolo, senior lecturer in cultural geography in GEES.
It was a very productive day, which started with Lauren Andres (PI) and Lorena Melgaço (RF) presenting the results and analysis of the 2017 survey and the interviews conducted in the first semester of 2018 in South Africa. During the morning session, the steering group highlighted the positive outcomes of the survey and interviews and discussed possible crossovers with British planning education for example in regards to the level of satisfaction of professionals with their education and the profession. Wider debates also occurred in line with the competencies of the planners versus the challenges to address, the wider questions behind decolonising knowledge throughout North/South, South/South learning and the issue of race and racialisation.
In the afternoon, the internationalisation of UK planning education was discussed, with Lorena presenting some of the preliminary data collected through interviews and a short survey with British planners. Phil Jones (Co-I) also presented the teaching app pilot conducted between the University of Birmingham and University of the Free State students and the steering group commented on its potential for duplication in core MSc degrees.
The group spent the final part of the session discussing impact and outreach activities carried out in South Africa and internationally. This was an opportunity to present the ‘Good Practice Platform’ developed by SAPER (Phil Jones) for the Commonwealth Association of Planners (https://www.commonwealth-planners.org/good-practice-platform) as well as the prototype discussion board currently designed with SACPLAN (South African Planning Association) to support planners on the ground. Those activities are complementing the range of other impact events and outputs (incl. range of briefing notes - http://www.saperproject.com/resources.html) the team has been attending and producing in the last six months linking up with the relevant institutions in South Africa such as SAPI (South African Planning Institute), DRDLR (Department for rural development and land reform), COGTA (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), SALGA (South African Local Government Association), DPSA (Department of Public Service and Administration), and also worldwide such as CAP, World Economic Forum and UN Habitat. Suggestions towards supplementary engagement pathways in the UK were sketched by the steering group members.