I’m an Associate Director with DLP Planning in Bristol, following study at the University of Bristol and Cardiff University. My training has almost exclusively been in private consultancy delivering housing, but my main love remains affordable housing. My career to date has focused on keeping up to date with policy, case law and learning as much as I can from more experienced planners. The move to home working means I benefit from Teams calls, but I’m looking forward to getting more people back to the office!
What does your typical working day look like?
The start to my working day is less commuting on my bike and more centred on the school run followed by Teams calls with my brilliant colleagues in Sheffield, London, Bedford and beyond.
The bulk of my day is spent much as anyone’s in private practice - client and project team video calls, drafting advice and statements, reviewing the latest news and monitoring applications. Having time to read Planning or the latest blog on LinkedIn is precious, and must be accompanied by fresh hot tea.
If my in-laws are doing school pick up I can work through my emails and hope to finish before teatime, otherwise I’m on Lego duty.
How do you unwind on an evening or weekend?
Films are my passion, and I can’t wait for my favourite cinema to reopen so I can meet up with friends again.
What are the best and worst bits about your job?
Waiting for planning and other officers to work down their to-do list to my cases feels interminable. Chronic under-resourcing has a lot to answer for – how can we build, build, build if local authority planning departments haven’t enough staff to work through applications?
Finding the solution to a thorny question, and receiving a positive decision still gives me a thrill. Being responsible for telling the client who needs that permission, whether it be for personal or professional gain, is the best part of the job. When I have negotiated a good design for a site, and obtained permission for affordable housing in areas blighted by high house prices, I have felt hugely rewarded. Planning is for us all, and being able to see the bigger picture in a decision is a really important part of our job.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
Colleagues and friends have always been my biggest steer, constantly reminding me to look at problems from a different perspective. Having worked on Gypsy and Traveller pitch allocations for a couple of years, I have a healthy appreciation for not taking public comments home with me. My fellow Women in Planning committee members also deserve a huge thanks for keeping me sane and entertained.
What is the best piece of advice you have received in your career?
Read everything, however dull, and plan for the end users.
What is your favourite place?
The Isle of Harris; the most beautiful beaches and hills I’ve ever walked on.