The fact that planning law has such tangible consequences and is so forward-looking is very rewarding – I can see the difference I make and I have a stake in communities’ futures. My experience as a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute means I can develop strategies for clients that take into account what works in practical terms for them and the complexities of the planning process.
Understanding the market in which housebuilders, developers and individual clients are working, and the pressures they are under is very important – I often visit similar sites to get a real understanding of the issues on the ground. I make sure that I keep people informed, as the planning process is often more complex and bureaucratic than they expect.
Outside work, I love going to the theatre, especially to see live comedy.
Planning is definitely a marathon, not a sprint – allow yourself plenty of time to get to where you want to be.
Consider what you are not prepared to compromise on; planning is often a negotiation process (as many law related matters are) and it can pay to build concessions into your strategy as long as this isn’t at the expense of your overall vision.
Select good advisors, architects and consultants; even a well thought out scheme can fall down if your team doesn’t have the right knowledge or experience to put that scheme forward in the best way possible.
Q: Do I need planning permission for x or y?
A: My answer depends, of course, on the detail given, but when answering I consider whether it falls within the definition of development, whether permitted development rights apply or whether that use was lawfully permitted already as a starting point.
Q: How long will it take to decide on x or y?
A: Again, this depends on the type of development and the part of the process concerned, but timescales are often a cause for concern and I will always do my best to be realistic.