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25 February 2019

Suffolk County Council

Endeavour House


What does it mean to practice 'proactive planning' in policy and practice?

On Monday, 25th February Suffolk Design held the first of four Masterclasses. We were hosted within the Suffolk County Council offices at Endeavour House, Ipswich and lead by Urban Designer Robin Buckle.

In this session we explored: How to deliver proactive planning, in order to deliver the most appropriate outcome for a particular site, from strategic considerations such as managing collaboration with project teams throughout the planning timeline, through to the particular tactics, such as setting clear expectations for applicants.

To see the full presentation delivered by Dhruv Sookhoo on Proactive Planning and Frameworks for Design Quality please see the below PDF document. Due to the size of the files of the two other presentations that were delivered at the Masterclass, by Amy Burbidge on Proactive Place-making in Garden Communities, the North Northants Experience, and Anna Rose, on Proactive Planning, we are unable to load these, however if you wish to view these please email




Robin Buckle


Our lead for this masterclass Robin, is an urban designer with over 20 years experience at a senior level, predominantly in local and regional government.


Last year he set up his own design consultancy, imaginatively called Robin Buckle Urban Design, and has been working with a number of organisations including Design South East. Prior to this he was Head of Urban Design for Transport for London, involved in, or leading on, a range of strategic and local projects across London from the design of streets and places to the development of major infrastructure schemes including the first urban cable car in the UK and the Northern Line Extension.


Robin has also worked in the spheres of planning and regeneration, playing a key role in setting out the policy and physical framework for the regeneration of the area surrounding Wembley Stadium.


More recently he has been instrumental in the production of award winning guidance on how to integrate Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) into the public realm and a guide to small scale interventions, both temporary and permanent, which can have a big impact on the use and enjoyment of our streets and spaces.

Our guest speakers for this session included:

Amy Burbidge

Amy is the Design Manager at the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning and Delivery Unit which is a shared service across the 4 Local Planning Authorities in the area and works to ensure that spatial planning is done across boundaries and with a common-purpose. Amy provides advice to the partner authorities in the JPDU area on urban design in terms of policy, major strategic sites applications, and training and supporting the planning teams across the area.


North Northamptonshire is delivering a nationally important scale of development, to increase its population by a quarter between 2011-2031. Most of the growth in North Northants is concentrated on six large developments, each in excess of 2500 dwellings, and with a combined capacity of 25,000 homes, as well as within a new Garden Village . These schemes are among the largest residential developments anywhere in the Country.


Amy is experienced in working from the large scale strategic masterplans and design codes to the detailed reserved matters and public realm schemes using tools like Building for Life, and in looking for positive outcomes on schemes to ensure that quality places can be delivered. She has experience of design and planning policy and developing an evidence base to support policy using urban design techniques to examine the urban structure of 11 towns across the North Northamptonshire area. She is currently drafting a Placeshaping SPD setting out clear objectives for new development and linked to the health and wellbeing outcomes that such development should support. Amy is a panellist for the Cambridgeshire Quality Panel & East Midland’s Design Review Panel (OPUN) as well as being a member of the Trees Design Action Group.


She has been with the NNJPDU for 10 years, in a post originally created with CABE and Arts Council England. Amy previously worked for the London Borough of Harrow as Design & Conservation Manager, and is an archaeologist by training, with a degree in buildings archaeology and historic building conservation, later completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Urban Design. She is a full member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and a member of the Urban Design Group.

Dhruv Sookhoo

Dhruv is a chartered architect, chartered town planner and fellow of the higher education academy. As Head of Research at Metropolitan Workshop he is responsible for capturing, disseminating and promoting practice innovation to enhance the practice’s creative endeavour. He is currently undertaking ESRC-funded doctoral research into the interprofessional perspectives and practices of architects and planners working to deliver residential design quality at Newcastle University. As a Visiting Lecturer at Newcastle University, he contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching across architecture, planning and urban design programmes, specialising in the promotion of housing design quality within developing organisations, and design-led, participatory approaches for effective collaboration between practitioners and communities.


Before commencing full-time research, Dhruv was Head of Design, Home Group, where he was responsible for championing better residential design quality across a national housing and regeneration programme through the commissioning of leading architects and designers, effective design management, design review and community engagement. He is a member of the influential RIBA Housing Group, the RTPI Accreditation and Partnership Board, an examiner to the Architects Registration Board, an RTPI APC Asses-sor and an alumnus of Future of London’s London Leadership Programme.

Dhruv Sookhoo-3.jpg

Anna Rose

Anna has been the Head of the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) since August 2017. Prior to this she was the Head of Planning & Culture at Rugby Borough Council (RBC) and Director – Economy, Development & Culture at Milton Keynes Council (MKC).


Anna led the first systems thinking review of a planning service and has gained a reputation for promoting the positive role of planning and planners.


Anna is a Chartered Town Planner, a past president of the Planning Officers Society (POS) and a trustee of the TCPA. She sits on the advisory board for Public Practice and contributes to a number of research projects, publications and events.

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