Independent Planning Advisor

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About you?

What is your background?

Planning and Transportation for Coventry City Council in March 2007,
During my career I was President of the Planning Officers Society,
served on several Government working parties and chaired many national and regional planning bodies. Over the last 3 years I was also a representitive in the West Midalnds of CABE ( the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment who are the Government's advisor on urban design matters ) Following my retirement I have become a part time planning consultant.

What initially attracted you to your job?

An interest in all aspects of architecture , urban design and
transportation and basically what makes our towns and cities tick
the imact that this has on people.

Define your job?

As a consultant, it now varies quite considerably depending on what
commissions I have at any one time. This currently involves working for the Government on planning matters to help a local authority improve its performance, recent work on transportation in the West Midlands, and University lecturing.

Can you walk me through your day to day activities?

This very much depends on the commissions I have at the time, but
typically would involve checking e-mails first thing in the morning,
researching the topic , liaising with the client, arranging or attending
meetings and producing documents/submissions. If working a full day this would conclude with general administration, record keeping and financial matters.

How has your job changed in the last 5 to 10 years?

Having only been a consultant for a few months little has changed,
however in my previous roles in local authorities significant changes
occurred during the last 5 to 10 years. These included greater scrutiny and target setting by the Government, major changes to legislation, greater public involvement in the planning process, changes to local authority decision making and processes and the new of challenges of sustainability and climate change.

What are the key issues facing your sector?

Key factors in planning at present are: the need to find sites for a
major growth in house building, addressing the affordability gap in
housing, dealing with congestion and improving transport for all,
achieving sustainable development, climate change, and the protection of our key environmental assets.

How does government legislation affect your job?

Very significantly as all planning work is undertaken within a framework of Acts of Parliament, Regulations and Orders, Circulars and Government advice in the form of Planning Policy Statements.

What impact has technology had on your job?

Very significantly due to systems like the Planning Portal which
includes information on line on planning issues locally and nationally, local authority web sites which enable planning applications and
queries to be dealt with on line, and the extensive use of GIS mapping.

What are the best things and
worst things about your job?

As a part time planning consultant the best thing is being able to work when I want to work and being able to select the commissions I
undertake. The worst thing about being a planner, more generally, is planners seem to get blamed for everything whether it's their responsibility or not.

Do you have any horror

Too many to list and I'm conscious of the libel laws

What attributes do you need/ what are you looking for when hiring someone in
your role?

Interest in the built and green environments.
A desire to improve the quality of life for people and communities.
Common sense (often not as common as the name would suggest)

What are your tips/ advice for those starting out?

Do not focus on a specialist area within planning too soon in your

What are your three favourite websites? (couldn't work without it these days) (all you need to know about government legislation and advice)

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