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Ayoola Alonge is currently working at the Home Office. He volunteers in the Network's communications team.

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?

I am Ayoola, a name symbolising both joy and wealth. I hail from the southwestern part of Nigeria in Africa, and I am presently employed by the Home Office.

2. How does the planning system/practices in the UK differ from Nigeria? Any lessons learnt for the UK? 

The planning system in the UK can be described as a working system while that of Africa can be described as a work-in-progress system. The UK planning system has exposed me to aspects of planning which I have never imagined or encountered. In the near future, I would love to work in Africa with my acquired knowledge of planning from the UK to make Africa a sustainable continent. 

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

St. James's Church in Toxteth, Liverpool, holds a special place in my heart for contemplating the rich heritage of the black community. Traditional history often overlooks the contributions of enslaved individuals who were transported to England and the Western world. But St. James' Church is unique in documenting the baptisms of numerous settlers from West Africa, America, and the Caribbean in its historical timeline.

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

Growing up and having the privilege of being mentored by the distinguished and seasoned town planner, Dr Emmanuel Ajibade Ogunjumo TPL. I came to understand that the foundation of planning predates the formal term "town planning." When we delve into the historical layouts of cities and towns, we discover the early application of concepts like the gridiron. This exploration has inspired me to delve into other planning paradigms such as the Ekistics Concept.

Integrating the wealth of knowledge I've gained into my daily practice has empowered me to offer solutions, make informed decisions, and provide recommendations for shaping and fostering sustainable neighbourhoods. This proactive approach plays a crucial role in mitigating potential environmental disasters.

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

One of the biggest challenges I encountered in my career was career progression in the UK. The UK planning industry welcomes everyone. But without proper ‘UK work experience’,  it would be difficult to fit into the system. I had to take up different voluntary roles which has pushed me further up the ladder in my career. While I was doing the voluntary jobs, I also took extra online courses in Planning. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses also helped me gain more understanding about planning. Meeting up with some senior colleagues at work and on the BAME Planners Network has also given me great motivation to further my exploration of knowledge. 

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

Embracing black heritage in the planning profession has several benefits:

a) Incorporating black heritage into planning fosters cultural sensitivity, helping planners better understand and respect the cultural significance of different spaces and places.

b) Diverse culture often leads to more innovation and creative solutions as individuals bring a wide range of experiences and ideas to the table.

7.  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'd like to seize this moment to honour Helen Fadipe MRTPI, the BAME Planners Network founder and the newly elected Vice President of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Throughout my career journey, Helen has consistently offered invaluable support. As a black woman, who I often refer to as the "female Black Panther," she remains unwavering in her commitment to nurturing young planners.

Ayoola Alonge

Meet the Members Series

Ayoola Alonge

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