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Conference and Event Management Portfolio

Plugging In Conference

This RCCE conference was held in partnership with Inspire East.

RCCE staff joined approximately 50 conference attendees at Rivenhall Hotel for a county wide conference. The day recognised the value of community led plans - both Parish Plans and Village Design Statements across the region and investigated how to link community plans to the statutory planning system.

The day proved to be a valuable networking opportunity and an opportunity to share ideas and best practice. Case studies of work from around Essex were presented and participants discussed how community plans can be used to influence strategy such as the Local Area Agreement and the Sustainable Community Strategy.

Participants said:

  • Very informative
  • A day well spent
  • Really good to hear from case studies
  • Very useful presentations and activities and good opportunity to network

Working Together in the Planning System: Regional Conference for Place Makers

A prestigious regional event was held at Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel in Suffolk. The conference organised by RCCE on behalf of Inspire East and supported by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) brought together officers, councillors and community development workers in the East of England to discuss how they work together in the planning system.

The conference explored how to make best use of our different backgrounds, skills and expertise in the production of Community Strategies and Local Development Frameworks and how to link these documents with Parish Plans and Village Design Statements.

RCCE has an impressive track record in engaging communities in planning. This has been by running consultation workshops for local authorities and also through the support of community led plans. 'Parish Plans and Village Design Statements enable parish councils and community groups to assess local needs and aspirations and to plan for their future,' explained Nick Shuttleworth, director of RCCE. 'It is important to ensure that communities retain ownership of this process and the resulting documents, however we must also recognise that the information contained within them is valuable evidence for the local authority when preparing their statutory plans.'

Jen Wingate, Community Manager at Inspire East, believes there are huge benefits in bringing everyone together at the conference. 'By working together in the planning system we can make best use of officers' skills and expertise. We are all working with limited resources and it makes sense to ensure that we work efficiently and without duplication,' she said. 'There is scope for feeding existing community led plan information into the system and for arranging joint consultations in the future.'

The conference was hailed as 'very well organised and structured, particularly as the subject is complex' and 'a valuable experience in learning about getting more community involvement'.

The links between community led plans and statutory plans will be the subject of one of RCCE field officer team events later this year, to enable this information to be shared with Parish Plan and VDS steering groups and other community organisations.

Community Planning Events

The RCCE Field Officer team regularly hold events for community groups in Essex working on Parish Plans and Village Design Statements.

The events vary in content and in the past have events have included interactive training sessions, informal surgery sessions and presentation evenings. Along with the RCCE staff external speakers from a variety of backgrounds have assisted in with the events.

The events are designed to meet the specific needs of groups working with RCCE staff and have covered subject matters including: action planning, statutory planning systems, creating questionnaires and consultation methods and engaging local communities.

Transition Essex

RCCE organised the 'Transition Essex' conference at Essex Record Office. The conference raised awareness of the two toughest challenges facing humankind at the start of this 21st century: Climate Change and Peak Oil. The former is well documented and very visible in the media. Peak Oil, however, has been kept under the radar for most people. Yet Peak Oil, heralding the era of ever-declining fossil fuel availability, may well prevent the economic and social stability that is essential if we are to mitigate the threats posed by Climate Change.

Rob Hopkins, Founder of the Transition Network and coordinator of Transition Town Totnes, made an excellent presentation about the decreasing supply and increasing demand for fossil fuels and outlined the different scenarios for our future. The information in Rob's morning presentation painted a rather grim picture.

But it was not all gloom and doom. The aim of the conference was to show how communities can respond positively to the challenges of climate change and peak oil and prepare themselves for the transition to a low energy future. Delegates attended breakout sessions on junk swaps, involving young people, local food production, carbon foot-printing, wildlife conservation, energy audits and renewable energy sources. Various organisations in Essex showed how they could support community groups in setting up new projects to mitigate the impact of climate change and peak oil.

At the end of the afternoon, Rob explained how such projects could be incorporated into a Transition Initiative and he outlined the 12 steps to becoming a Transition town or village. At present there are no officially designated Transition Towns in Essex, but there are a number of 'mullers' (i.e. those expressing an interest). We hope that as a result of this conference and our ongoing work at RCCE to promote Best Green Villages, many of our Essex communities will join the Transition Movement.