MacKay Hannah

Planning, place and 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland: What is the recipe for success?


Donald Anderson

Director, Playfair Scotland

Prior to setting up the company, Donald worked as Director of the PPS Scotland Office for nine and a half years, as a company with specific expertise in inward investment, government and public service issues. Donald has worked on projects with an investment value more than £4billion in recent years. His work has covered most of Scotland working in 28 of the 32 local authority areas.

Donald was a councillor for over 20 years, working extensively on delivering economic development and investment and was one of the key public sector figures who helped Edinburgh become the strongest city economy in the UK outside London. Donald helped the city’s Festivals to thrive and conceived and created Edinburgh’s Christmas Festival which brings nearly £200million into the city each year. Donald was unashamedly pro-development during his period in office.

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Petra Biberbach

Chief Executive, PAS

Petra Biberbach is Chief Executive of award-winning national charity, PAS. With a career spanning public, private and third sector, Petra brings a wealth of expertise to the post in the fields of planning, sustainable development, renewable energy, community engagement and research.

Petra is currently the Vice Chair of LINK Group and chairs the Property Development Group. Petra served as a member on the Independent Review of the Scottish Planning System and recently completed two terms as a board member of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority and was Convenor of the Planning Committee. In 1998 she founded and became the first chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) which campaigned successfully for the reopening of the Borders Railway.

She enjoys golf, choir, cycling, gardening and still singing along to Leonard Cohen!

Petra Biberbach
0131 659 9771

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Sam Cassels

Place Principle Adviser, Scottish Government

Sam is a strategic designer and facilitator with a focus on collaborative storytelling and place-making. He has worked on investment programmes for over 100 organisations internationally across the public and private sectors, helping them make well informed decisions about shaping the future. He has over 30 years of experience and has qualifications in architecture and economics.


Diarmaid Lawlor

Associate Director - Place, Scottish Futures Trust

Diarmaid is the Associate Director for place at the Scottish Futures Trust.

He was previously Head of Urbanism with Architecture and Design Scotland. An urbanist, with a multi disciplinary background, he has worked on projects involving the shaping and implementation of change for clients in Ireland, the UK and Europe, for the public, private and tertiary sectors. He has almost 20 years' experience of helping clients make well informed decisions about complex, connected urban policy and investment challenges. He is an educator, communicator and collaborator who writes and speaks on creative approaches to making better places.

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Picture of Jenna Monteith

Jenna Monteith

Senior Associate, Brodies LLP

Daisy Narayanan

Head of Placemaking and Mobility, City of Edinburgh Council

Daisy is the Head of Placemaking and Mobility at the City of Edinburgh Council. She was previously Director of Urbanism for Sustrans and has a wealth of experience in policy and public realm design, gained through work as an architect and urban designer in India, Singapore, England and Scotland. She is also a member of the Edinburgh Climate Commission and Scotland's Climate Assembly's Evidence Group and brings expertise in this area in supporting the Council’s zero carbon goals.

Previously, in 2018 and 2019, Daisy was seconded to the Council to lead on the successful development of Edinburgh City Centre Transformation, a pioneering ten-year plan to create a vibrant, truly people-friendly city centre. During this time, she also championed the introduction of Open Streets in Edinburgh, a monthly car-free event in the Old Town, when families and individuals could enjoy the sights and attractions of the city.

As Head of Placemaking and Mobility at the Council, Daisy focuses on several ambitious strategies for the sustainable development of the city as it works towards carbon neutrality by 2030. This includes the City Mobility Plan and the Council’s 20-minute neighbourhood programme.


Stefanie O'Gorman

Director of Sustainable Economics, Ramboll Group

Stefanie is the Director of Sustainable Economics. She specialises in the integration of a wide range of costs and benefits within decision making and supporting clients with strategic decision making for a more sustainable, inclusive society. Stefanie’s consulting experience (supported by academic training in environmental management, natural sciences and economics) spans the planning, technical delivery, and management of policy and infrastructure projects. As an environmental economist she has a deep knowledge of climate science, natural resource use, ecosystem services and natural capital, circular economy and more widely the principles and practices of sustainability, in its widest sense. Most recently she has focused on the economics of cities and urban settlements with a view to delivering valuable and tangible social and environmental outcomes through improved design and delivery of infrastructure, the creation of investable propositions, alongside significant stakeholder, community and third sector engagement. Her work in this area concentrates on environmental and social outcomes and how to support client in making ‘better’ decision.




Graham Ross

Chief Executive, Austin-Smith:Lord

Graham joined Austin-Smith:Lord in 1998 having studied at Edinburgh College of Art and the Technische Universität Berlin, graduating with Masters in both Architecture and Urban Design. He is a Partner and the Office Principal of the Glasgow studio. He is an architect, urban designer and planner and has been involved in a wide range of projects throughout the UK and Ireland.

Graham is a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism, a Recognised Practitioner of the Urban Design Group and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is the current Deputy Chair of Architecture & Design Scotland.

Graham has contributed to several published pieces of research undertaken for the Scottish Government. Graham’s work has received numerous awards, including four Scottish Design Awards.

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Dr Fiona Simpson

Chief Planner, The Scottish Government

Fiona Simpson, Scottish Government Chief Planner has worked for the Scottish Government for 15 years. She has overall responsibility for the work of Planning and Architecture Division, including national planning policy, casework and the digital transformation of the planning system. 

Fiona provided secretariat support to the independent review of the planning system in 2016, played a key role in planning reform including the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, and is currently leading the preparation of National Planning Framework 4. Fiona led the preparation of National Planning Framework 3, and prior to that was Head of Environmental Assessment and worked across Government to provide technical advice on a wide range of energy, marine and environmental policies and programmes.   


Stefano Smith FRTPI

Director, Stefano Smith Planning

Stefano is a commercial and pragmatic development planner with a strong customer focus. Stefano has nearly 30 years of UK professional experience of managing multi-disciplinary teams within a planning, environmental, design and engineering consultancy.

He has extensive experience in providing development planning and project management services in the environment, infrastructure, energy, commercial, industrial, housing and mixed-use sectors. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (FRTPI) with experience in statutory planning (including approvals & consents and expert witness), sustainability, regeneration, master planning & urban design, consultation & engagement strategies and tools & development economics. He is a seasoned practitioner in stakeholder engagement and the development of communication strategies, as well as the use of appraisal and assessment tools.

Stefano has successfully advised, negotiated, and delivered complex land development and infrastructure projects of ranging sizes. He has worked in both the private and public sectors, particularly pertaining to the principles and practice of the economics of urban regeneration, land development, sustainability, urban design, complex environmental assessment, and project management.


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I was drawn to the conference because of the good feedback from previous participants. It was a great conference and I enjoyed hearing Gilly (MacMorran) speak.

Charlene Clark, West College Scotland,
Delegate at ACES 2015