Kate is a chartered town senior planner in Turley’s Southampton office, working cross-regionally with the Reading office to serve the wider South East region. Formerly from the West Midlands, and forming one of co-chairs and branch founders for Women in Planning in this region, Kate specialises in providing private and public sector clients with residential planning advice. In addition to this, Kate has experience in the commercial sector, together with the preparation of Estate Rationalisation Studies for public sector organisations.
Kate has led multi-disciplinary teams through both strategic land promotion and through the planning application process.
She is also an ambassador for the RTPI through her work with the South Coast Young Planners Committee and Regional Activities Committee. She is an avid promoter of diversity, equality and inclusion across the profession.
What does your typical working day look like?
As I’m sure most other people are, I’m currently working from home at the moment, as per the Government’s latest guidelines relating to Covid19. In this respect, gone is my rail commute to Southampton which I’d just got to grips with, and gone is my mad post-work dash home to get ready for training in time (this is usually accompanied by a grab and go approach to dinner involving freezer roulette!). Instead I’m adjusting to a much slower pace of life, which for those who know me, hasn’t been the easiest. That being said I’m enjoying spending less time travelling. This has been replaced with a serious appreciation for my garden and access to the countryside… I am missing the view of the sea from the office window though!
I’ve tried to maintain as much as a routine as before in terms of when I get up and go to sleep. This was hard to begin with as the temptation to stay online later (work or social related) meant I wasn’t switching off until later. This inevitably made mornings more difficult and led to an increase in the amount of coffee I needed to wake up… (that, or the quality of my coffee doesn’t compare to what we have in the office!).
A lot of the day is spent dealing with live projects including working through key matters with clients and consultant teams in order to progress the preparation of either planning applications or strategic site promotions, together with the preparation of fee proposals and site appraisals for potential development sites coming forward.
At 3PM every day we have ‘kitchen chats’ for the South East team where people can drop in for a catch up with the team. This has been great and has provided a relaxed forum for everyone to catch up with each other, or in my case, get to know everyone! Having only spent a week physically in the office with my new team before lockdown, these calls have been really important to me.
I try and log off from doing work related things by 5.30PM, but this is sometimes difficult, especially as I’ve been helping out a little bit more with Women in Planning and our virtual programme of events and cross branch calls.
I’m a keen runner at the best of times so after work I usually head out for a training session, be it long run, “track”, or threshold session. My aim is to keep my legs ticking over for when I can get racing again! It also helps me switch off mentally after the day.
On an Evening…
I’m still a relatively new vegetarian so my evenings are usually spent trying a new recipe, reading (my nose is firmly in Let My People Go Surfing which is written by the founder of Patagonia, the outdoor sports gear and clothing company. It discusses their business model and how they grew their business whilst balancing their climate change aspirations and goals), or playing Monopoly Deal (if you haven’t played it, you should).
I can’t say I’ve watched Tiger King yet, but I have been watching multiple episodes of The Repair Shop…!
How do you unwind on an evening or weekend?
Before everything changed I had every weekend up to the beginning of July booked with trips to see family and friends, or to go exploring. I also had a lot of races booked in that have either been cancelled or postponed so I’m now having a look at what my 2020 season might look like and where I want to focus my goals (new marathon and 10k PBs I think!). I’ve also spent a lot of time in the garden recently or decorating and have joked that I’ve become a part-time landscaper and interior decorator. It’s funny how the list of DIY projects grows and grows once you’ve started!
What is the most rewarding project you have worked on?
One of the most rewarding projects I have worked on includes a recent Estate Development Plan which I helped prepare on behalf of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. I was part of a team of 3 leading the project to secure opportunities for the continued enhancement of the training establishment, which sought to bring about innovative ways to manage the built environment within the estate in a way which best suited its users and core outputs. The client group were delighted with the end product with a number of the recommendations having already being implemented.
Another project I have found really rewarding was one of my first major projects which sought detailed planning permission for 310 residential dwellings and outline permission up to 300,000 sq ft of commercial floorspace. Two applications were submitted in respect of this brownfield, allocated site and the process involved a total 2 years of pre and post-submission engagement with the local planning authority. This involved working through key matters such as design, landscaping and recreational impacts on nearby designated sites. It was really great to be able to deliver the client with a successful outcome on both of these applications, which was attributed to the close working relationship we developed with officers.
What are the best and worst bits about your job?
I love that my job encompasses and draws together all of the differing aspects of the built environment. We, as planners, are the mediators between all the other elements and we pull together stakeholders, local communities and businesses to talk about how to shape the spaces the engage with.
In terms of the worst part… I think I have to agree with Emma (see earlier post)! It’s a real shame that planning is as misunderstood as it is. I think there’s been a definite shift towards meaningful engagement across the board and people’s perceptions are starting to soften slightly, but I still think there is some work to go! I’m grateful to be part of an organisation who offers a quality approach to engagement and communication that ultimately allows us to meet the needs of the communities we are involved in and our client’s commercial interests.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
I think one of my first directors at Avison Young has had the greatest influence on my career to date. He trusted me with a lot of responsibility from very early on and believed I could do it, even when I didn’t think I could. He also encouraged me to be myself with clients and taught me that people like to work with people.
What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?
Ask all of the questions and make sure you are sure in your mind.
What is your favourite place?
Abersoch, North Wales. It’s got everything I need: sun, sea, sand, mountains, coastal paths and good wine!