MSc Planning news highlights

MSc Planning students visit Cranbrook New Town

Students visited staff at the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point on 8 October 2013 to witness progress with the design and construction of the new town at Cranbrook on the outskirts of Exeter. The development is part of three urban extensions planned for Exeter to bring growth to the east of the city based around the SkyPark, A30 up-grade and Science Park. The initial concept for the new town was proposed in 1991, but the first residents moved in during 2012. Students visited St Martin’s School, which opened in September 2012 to provide primary and nursery spaces for new residents and was funded by a Section 106 agreement. They also visited the District Heating Centre, which will heat all homes in the new settlement and contribute towards the zero carbon goal, and the Neighbourhood Centre, which will act as town hall, library and doctor’s surgery as well as the home of the Community Forum. By 2026, it is expected that Cranbrook will have 6,000 houses and a population of 15,000.

RTPI Regional Chair 2014: Professor Chris Balch of Plymouth University

Professor Chris Balch has been appointed RTPI Regional Chair of the South West Branch during 2014. One of his main responsibilities has been to plan and chair 11 CPD seminars, including sessions on neighbourhood planning, innovations in stakeholder engagement, planning for renewable energy, place making and managing change in coastal communities. His leadership also coincides with the centenary of the RTPI with planned events including public debates on key issues in planning (in Plymouth and Bristol), a concert in Exeter Cathedral and a regional competition for schools on the achievements of planning in the South West over the last one hundred years.

First MSc Planning students graduate

Craig Leger, Ros Baker, Sarah Dyke, Kathryn Waldron, Tammy Burden, Jamie Staples and Hollie Nicholls were the first cohort of graduates from MSc Planning.

Graduation ceremony, Plymouth Hoe, 18 September 2013

MSc Planning student represents Malta at the Eurovision Song Contest

MSc Planning student Samaria Bezzina  represented Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest on 18 May 2013, as one of the backing singers supporting her brother, Gianluca. They received 120 points overall and were placed eighth in the competition, watched by 135 million people worldwide – which makes presenting an in-class seminar rather less daunting! 

Sam said “Eurovision was truly a great experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to be part of it.”

The Making of a Modern City

The exhibition on ‘The Making of a Modern City’, which ran from 27 April to 29 June 2013 at the City Museum and Art Gallery as part of the inaugural Plymouth History Festival, was part-assisted by Mark Brayshay and Stephen Essex. It was staged to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Professor Sir Patrick Abercrombie and James Paton-Watson's 'Plan for Plymouth' (1943) and delved into the archives to reveal the documents, plans and politics that shaped Plymouth in the immediate post-war period. Mark and Stephen wrote the draft text for the exhibition using their own research publications into the topic. This collaboration with the Plymouth and West Devon Records Office has opened new research avenues on these themes with the discovery of audio recordings of interviews with two of the main actors made in the mid-1970s (James Paton Watson, City Engineer and Surveyor and Sir Colin Campbell, Town Clerk).

RTPI President visits Plymouth

Dr Peter Gerahty (RTPI President, 2013-14) met students on the MSc Planning programme on 25 April 2013 during his tour of the South West of England. His presidential campaign is to celebrate planning as a positive force for promoting the public interest. 

After his visit, Peter wrote: "It was a great day today. I enjoyed meeting staff and students and wish you and the course every success. I was impressed with all I saw."

Examination of Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan

Following research on community expectations of neighbourhood planning in the South West, Professor Balch was approached by Teignbridge District Council as part of their bid for frontrunner status for the Dawlish Neighbourhood Plan, aimed at delivering an enhanced level of community involvement with the preparation of the District’s Core Strategy.  Following an intensive programme of engagement with the local community, the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group submitted a draft Plan for Examination. This approach was tested by Professor Balch, based on examination of relevant documentation, including extensive consultation responses and a local hearing. The resultant report, which was the first into a Neighbourhood Plan, attracted a great deal of professional and media interest.  While the Dawlish exercise can be viewed as a ‘one-off’ which failed to meet the specific requirements of the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations, the process provided valuable learning points for subsequent Examinations.


Dr Stephen Essex was nominated ‘Most Dedicated Project Supervisor’ and Professor Mark Brayshay ‘Most Innovative Use of Teaching Methods’ and highly commended ‘Most Inspirational Teaching’ at the UPSU SSTAR Awards 2011.

The awards are organised by students and the Students' Union to reward excellent university staff members and dedicated course reps at the University.

Find out more about the SSTAR Awards