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CABE founding director named first female chief planner

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Joanna Averley, a founding director of CABE and head of urban design at High Speed 2, has been named as the government’s first female chief planner

A qualified town planner, Averley will formally take up her position at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in September.

She replaces Steve Quartermain, who announced his retirement at the end of March, and joins the government’s head of architecture, Andy von Bradsky, in the department.

Averley, 50, worked at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) from when it began in 2000 to its closure in 2011, where she was deputy chief executive and director of design and planning advice.

She also led on the housing and planning programme for Transport for London on Crossrail 2, acted as interim chief executive at the Centre for Cities and was a director of design for the London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority.

Averley said: ’We have many challenges to address over the coming months and years – how we meet the needs of our communities in delivering good quality homes and neighbourhoods, underpinning the economy and jobs, delivering sustainable patterns of growth, addressing the climate crisis and adapting to the realities of the pandemic and its consequences.

’Planning and planners have a vital role to play – a creative, proactive approach and long-term thinking will be at the heart of bringing positive change for all.’

Chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Victoria Hills said: ‘This is a very smart appointment. Joanna Averley has all the right attributes and experience in planning, infrastructure and design.

’I’m delighted that the job has gone to a woman as the top table in planning needs greater diversity. Congratulations Joanna!’

RIBA President, Alan Jones, also added his congratulations.

He said: ’The planning system will play a huge part in the recovery of our sector by enabling and supporting the creation of sustainable, high-quality developments across the UK.

’The RIBA looks forward to working with Joanna – who’s also one of our Rethink:2025 competition judges – when she starts the role in September.’

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