top of page

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Yvonne. I am Black British of African descent. I was born and raised in London. I work in the public sector as a Principal Planning Officer within the Planning Policy Team.

2.  Can you name one of your favourite places/developments in the UK that reflects black heritage? And why? 

 The ‘Gilt of Cain’ Sculpture in Fen Court Garden in the City of London is one of my favourite places that celebrates black heritage.  The sculpture was unveiled in 2008 and commemorates the abolition of transatlantic slave trade - an important part of black heritage.

3. How does your black heritage influence your understanding, approach or practice in planning?

Being of African descent, I am particularly aware of the importance of ensuring that the planning system is inclusive and accessible to people from ethnic minorities.  

Growing up, I experienced firsthand that African and Caribbean communities did not often participate in urban planning and missed out on opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable places. I believe these communities may not feel engaged and could not see their neighbourhood as ‘their’ home and therefore thought it was not necessary to have their say and take part in ‘place-making’ in the neighbourhood they resided in.

As such, becoming involved in planning, I have taken great care to encourage all sectors of communities to have their say and be heard throughout all the place-making projects I have managed, including carrying out diverse forms of consultation that are accessible to hard-to-reach groups.

4. Can you share one of the biggest challenges you have encountered in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenges I have faced in my career, I would say are career progression and overcoming unconscious bias within the industry.

How I have overcome them is by consistently setting goals for myself to equip myself with the skills and qualifications needed to set me apart to be the best candidate for the job as much as possible.

It has also been essential to have great mentors and coaches as well as a strong support network such as the BAME Planners Network. It provides an invaluable place where experiences can be shared and solutions can be developed to overcome these challenges.

As the planning industry strives to become more inclusive, I am hopeful that these challenges will be lessened in the future.

5. Why do you think it is beneficial for the planning profession to embrace black heritage? 

The purpose of the English planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development with the consideration of meeting the needs of the present as well as future generations. England has a great number of diverse cities. It is important that planning acknowledges and celebrates the cultural influences of Black British residents in place- making as well as encourages more black planners within the profession.

6. The theme of Black History Month this year is ‘'Saluting Our Sisters’. Can you please name a black female planner who you would like to celebrate? Please tell us why and how she has influenced you. 

I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate Helen Fadipe MRTPI, the founder of the BAME Planners Network and recently elected Vice President of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Helen has been a great mentor to me and very inspirational as a black female planner who has achieved so much.

I would also like to celebrate Sara Dilmamode MRTPI, an expert in planning policy making.  The mentorship and guidance she has provided in my career have been invaluable.


Celebrating Black History Month

Yvonne Sampoh


Principal Planning Officer

bottom of page