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A Speakers Experience

I note the speakers for the 43rd Joint Planning Law Conference has recently been announced and once again the team has organised another fascinating range of topics. Having had the privilege of doing a paper last year it is probably a good time to reflect on that experience.

Speakers go through a very thorough but enjoyable experience when preparing for the conference. You are expected to draft a skeleton paper early in the year before meeting the committee for what you assume will be a harrowing interrogation. Instead you are greeted by a friendly team who are there to make positive suggestions to help ensure you make the best possible contribution to the conference. Once agreed you are given timely reminders regarding the progress of your masterpiece and a further two meetings are normally arranged to go through it with the committee members. Finally it is thoroughly reviewed by your allocated chairman for the actual day of the conference and a member of the legal team before being signed off. It is no wonder the Planning Law conference consistently produces the best papers; the thorough vetting process ensures a consistency and input that no other conference can match. It is all not all hard work though; each meeting with the committee is followed by a relaxing meal and a few glasses of wine. You are also given the opportunity to meet the other speakers and make a contribution, further enhancing the whole experience. With the work done, the only concern is ensuring you are ready for your slot in Oxford and keeping to your allocated time. So you might have to sacrifice a late evening before your presentation catching up with the other delegates over a few beers.

The committee members are a very dedicated group. They are carrying out the organisation of the event on a voluntary basis. They are very grateful for the time and effort speakers put into the process but they work very hard to make it a very pleasurable experience. If you have not been to the best planning conference yet, don’t be put off because it is held over a weekend and give it a go. You will not only learn from the best speakers in their subject areas but from an intelligent audience who ask pertinent questions; all in the splendid setting of New College Oxford. If you are fortunate enough to be asked to do a paper in future years, just remember it is a very rewarding experience.

I am sure the 43rd Joint Planning Law Conference will be another unqualified success.

John Walker

Director of Planning
Growth Planning and Housing
Westminster City Council

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