I was just THRILLED to be asked to speak at the WIMPS (Women in Metropolitan Planning Services) Dinner last night. Gosh. How lovely it was! The chosen name for their group is clearly wholly ironic, for a less wimpy gathering would be rather hard to imagine! In fact, I'd have categorised these ladies as a doughty and feisty force to be reckoned with. Actually they are quite terrifying really and, I would imagine, rather proud of that fact. Under the skilled leadership of Pippa Aitken of Colliers CRE and Alison Blom-Cooper of Fortismore Associates, there was more brain power mustered in that room in Victoria than you could shake an Article 14 Direction at!
These ladies give town planning a good name. I was so impressed with them all, felt so very reinforced, felt so much that - ahem - lead had been put back in my pencil (do forgive totally inappropriate sexist expression), that I Tweeted on the tube on the way home that the "brainy birds" should be "put in charge of running the country". Whereupon that well known wag, Richard Aylwin, in a reference to the nursery rhyme, responded to say they might "swoop down and peck off your nose"! Well, he's a surveyor and a journalist, and he's ambivalent about planners (although rather keen on women I'd have said).
I so enjoyed myself. And I was so flattered to be asked. And it was so
lovely to talk properly to all the blue stocking planners. Lovely to
reconnect with some very good old friends (less of the old!) such as
Diana Kershaw, Corrine Swain and Sue Foster. And lovely to make some
good new friends who I know I can count on if needs be. It was a real
honour and a privilege to be among them. And they have proffered so much
support with the new UKR venture. I think they liked it rather a lot
actually. They appreciate our efforts to get an honest dialogue between
the pubic and the private sectors. And they are a group of bold and
brave professionals who appreciate those that are not faint-hearted.
Wonderful to be able to share it with them, and to unpack the business
model with them, and to get their brilliant feedback, all of which will
be squirreled away and used to refine our development model and make it
miles better. I can only thank them for this immense, and very sisterly,
This is a group of senior women who care passionately about the built
environment and its effect on people and communities. They are proper
planners who understand the nuances of how places work. They are
sophisticated and pragmatic. I asked them if they'd had a debate about
the NPPF, and they shouted "no" at me rather forcefully. They are also
hugely concerned to bring other young women into the property industry
and to encourage and nurture and mentor a new cohort. And, without
getting dewy eyed, it so reminded me very much of the better aspects of
being in the women's movement when I was a nipper, that sense of
solidarity and sisterly support when actually you are trying to do
something rather brave and something that is normally only the purview
of the men. I just loved them.