Town planning… an Olympic sport

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Town planning…an Olympic sport

Town planning…an Olympic sport

Owain Nedin 15 Aug 2016
The town planner… elbow patches on the jumper, well-worn cords, comfortable shoes, never without a packed lunch/flask and epitomised by a fetish for maps. Fettered by rules and regulations, but seemingly willing more red tape in which he/she can immerse themselves and their expertise. The geek of the property world no doubt, but a necessary part of the process, one our clients wouldn’t want to do without (we hope).
Not, of course, my view of this wonderful profession and the people in it, although perhaps an opinion held by some…

But wait – what’s this, could it be, surely not?! All this time, the contemporary planner hails from similar stock to Wiggins, Ennis-Hill and Farah. That’s right, people of the property world, town planning was an Olympic event and all who practice it are, by the most tenuous link possible, of Olympic pedigree.

For four consecutive Games (1928-1948) town planning was part of the Olympics, gold medals and all. In the 1932 Games in Los Angeles, John Hughes (me neither) won Gold for GB for ‘Design for a Sports and Recreation Centre with Stadium, for the City of Liverpool’ (solid name, nowadays it would be ‘Project Badger’ or something similarly abstruse). I cannot confirm whether it was actually built (nothing new there perhaps…) but I’m pretty sure the victory was thoroughly well-deserved. And all without the natural advantage of the winners at the following Games (Berlin 1936) where the victorious pair, from Germany, won for the planning of the actual Olympic stadium.
So why did the medals stop I hear you cry? Well I’m informed[1] there was concern that the winners would benefit professionally from victory, not of course in the spirit of the Games and its amateur roots. Having said that, every time I switch on the TV at the moment, whether it’s trainers, broadband, cars, watches, credit cards (I could go on), it looks like Usain Bolt is benefitting pretty nicely on the back of being an Olympic champion. In fact the professional benefits seem to be part of the deal nowadays and this therefore begs the question – why not bring it back???

I can imagine it now. Team GB’s Planning Team. Bye bye ill-fitting short sleeve shirts and non-ironic hand woven ties… Hello Stella McCartney-designed Adidas tracksuit. Winter training camps in sunnier climes (i.e. the Isle of Wight), being pulled out of committee meetings for random drug tests and arriving at the Olympic Village only to redesign its place-making strategy and scrutinise the cycle parking provision.

OK maybe not. But during this Olympic period, why not spare a thought for our forefathers, Olympians in their own right, and wonder what it might be like to go for gold in 2024…

“And the gold medal for town planning goes to……”

Well, that’ll be Lichfields of course…
1932 Summer Olympics Gold Medal
Anyway, that’s enough daydreaming – I’ve got to finish a CIL calculation for ‘Project Badger’.