Following Planning Ventures Talk of Totterdown article and Blog Post in February 2014 – ‘Your Local Shops Could Be Under Threat Again’, Planning Ventures has been asked to participate in the Food City Region Conference hosted by the University of the West of England on the 6th May 2014, which is part of the Bristol Food Connections Festival. As I gained my BA Hons Town and Country Planning degree and my BTP at UWE how could I possibly refuse.

So can we ‘plan’ better to eat well? UWE’s Food City Region Conference thinks we must. The Conference is seeking to discuss and understand how we can make cities work better to produce good quality, sustainable food for all of us.

The Conference overview is that good ‘planning’ is a key element in the process of achieving this. It is undeniable that past planning policy, developments and planning decisions taken at local level and through the Appeal and Call In processes have led to a proliferation of out-of-town supermarkets, smaller residential units with correspondingly smaller kitchens and dining areas, the re-development of allotments and a lack of new allotment space provision, a reduction in the protection of local markets in some areas and the re-development of agricultural land for housing.

As such the Conference considers that cities have become places that make it difficult to get good food for people and correspondingly food that is good for the planet. However, all is not lost and whilst there are some good things already happening to address this, UWE and its co-hosts now think the time is right to look at this issue in depth and for a fresh approach to be taken to connect food and good health with the planning system.

Planning Ventures will be helping to lead a workshop discussion on ‘safeguarding the diversity of the retail food sector’. So hopefully this will provoke a lively and interesting debate on what current national planning policy and the coalition government’s stance is on retail planning policy, the ‘value’ of ensuring the provision of a range of retail shops and facilities, how we as planning professionals, retailers, other interested groups and communities tackle this and ensure that we have strong shopping areas, a range of areas for food production and processing and opportunities for enjoying food which encourages communities to take the momentum for creating stronger food retailing opportunities forward.

So take a look at the following link for more details on the Conference, the speakers and the topics that will be covered – http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/research/ishe/isheevents/foodcityregion.aspx.

Go on book a place and come along it will be a really interesting day.