The SAPER project team held a retreat in Milton Keynes 18-22 June led by Lauren Andres and Stuart Denoon-Stevens in order to develop the impact and publication strategies for the project. This is a very exciting time in the life of the SAPER project as the data collection phase has just finished and the team has been expanded to bring on board Martin Lewis (SACPLAN), Elsona Van Huyssteen (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) and Emmie Smit (UFS) to maximise the potential for impact.
The sessions included a masterclass on impact run by Sophie Hadfield-Hill from the University of Birmingham and a briefing on writing REF papers by Phil Jones. After a very intensive few days the team produced a detailed list of activities and tasks for the final 12 months of the project.
Opportunities were identified for feeding into a new mentoring and CPD strategy for South African planners. Activities at Parliament were planned to help shape South Africa’s forthcoming Planning Professionals Act. The team also sketched out a series of briefing notes and short films around the role of planners, the challenges of planning in a developing world, the future of the African city and the tensions between urban and rural planning.
The SAPER project has created a very large dataset of 212 questionnaire responses and 110 interviews with planning professionals and educators, producing the first comprehensive overview of the state of the profession in South Africa. Following a detailed discussion of the materials that have been gathered, up to twenty potential papers were identified and a writing strategy drawn up in line with REF priorities.
It was also nice for the team to meet face-to-face as a group – one of the problems of working across two different continents – and gain a better understanding of our motivations and constraints. Although it was an intensive few days, the project team ended the week feeling very positive about where the project was going over the next twelve months.
The SAPER team. L-R, Martin Lewis, Emmie Smit, Phil Jones, Verna Nel, Stuart Denoon-Stevens, Mishka Jacobus, Rouvé Bingle, Lauren Andres, Lorena Melgaco Silva Marques, David Adams