Where do you work?
I work as a Strategic Land Manager for Metis Homes, a high-quality regional housebuilder based in Fair Oak, Eastleigh. Metis Homes delivers beautifully designed and built homes in Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, South Oxfordshire and West Sussex. My primary function is to find land with and without planning permission for the company to deliver much-needed homes and where required, the infrastructure to support the new communities. As part of my role, I deal with landowners and a variety of professionals within the industry ranging from agents representing landowners to consultants and local authority planning officers.
In addition to my role, I have just begun my second year serving as a member of the RTPI’s England Policy Panel which helps shape the Institute’s responses to consultations that may have an impact on Planning Policy in England. These include consultations by Government departments such as DEFRA, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and a range of other agencies
Route into planning
Tell us about your route into planning
My interest in architecture and planning was inspired by a visit to the workplace of an uncle who was a planner as part of a GCSE Technical Drawing project. Studying Architecture was the initial manifestation of that inspiration however during the course I found that I naturally gravitated towards issues relating to the wider street and how it tied into the neighbourhood and how the neighbourhood, in turn, tied into the town and likewise the city. Having attained my architecture degree, like many other graduates at the time, I struggled to find a suitable position. This was due to the year of graduation following the recession in 2010 when jobs were scarce but eventually, I joined Fareham Borough Council in their Grounds Maintenance Team. At the time, although some positions occasionally became available in the planning department, they were not open to external candidates so I took a calculated risk in anticipation that there would be planning vacancies in the future.
So what happened next?
I eventually got the opportunity to work in the planning department as part of a secondment and I was able to showcase my abilities, particularly in assessing potential housing sites owing to the skills attained from my Architecture degree. With the incredible support of my amazing line manager at the time, Mark Chevis, I excelled in my role and when a position as a Career Grade Planner became available I was fortunate to be successful in securing it and subsequently attained a Masters Degree in Spatial Planning at Oxford Brookes.
During my Masters Degree, I was fortunate enough to visit Lyon on a residential trip and learn about town planning in a different country that has a particular focus on strategic planning. Whilst there I discovered the significant community benefits strategic planning can deliver for communities in terms of infrastructure, housing and economic growth.
Since then I have also had the opportunity to experience planning in different contexts ranging from a major housebuilder, planning consultancy, a Partnerships Business and currently working for a high-quality regional housebuilder but the strategic planning focus has remained a common focus for me throughout.
Helping the public
How does your role involve helping the public?
Put simply, my main role is to find land for tomorrow’s homes - today. Much needed housing when delivered through the plan-making process maximizes the opportunity of securing the right infrastructure in the right places to support communities.
Tell us about any work you’ve done to help your local community?
For the last few years, I have provided an annual talk at my local primary school where I give the year 2 classes an overview of the role that town planning plays in shaping where they live and play. This involves giving them pointers on how to design their own housing estates. Due to covid restrictions, I was unable to deliver the latest lecture in person but was able to utilise resources provided by FunKids in conjunction with the RTPI in the form of the Agent Plan-It video series to deliver a multimedia presentation. Following that presentation, I was permitted by the class teachers to share the children’s amazing work with my LinkedIn network and relayed the positive feedback to the children who were pleased that their designs had received praise and some helpful pointers from professionals in local government, private consultancy and housebuilding.
Over this past Christmas period, I was given the opportunity, through Metis Homes, to volunteer my time to the Mission Christmas Appeal by Cash for Kids. They carry out amazing work providing Christmas presents to disadvantaged children and young people in our communities who unfortunately are affected by poverty, illness, neglect or have additional needs.
Over the coming year, I hope to work with a Portsmouth based charity providing mentorship to the youth and hopefully facilitating better outcomes for them and even a rewarding career in planning!
Your spare time
What do you do when you are not planning?
Occasionally I enjoy sketching with a local urban sketching group which involves visiting various locations within the SO postcode area and producing quick sketches using different media. When I am not cooking for my beautiful family, I spend the majority of my time training for triathlon events. I was introduced to the sport by an ex-colleague a couple of years ago and while I am definitely not TEAM GB material, I enjoy the challenge and hope to build up to an Ironman or two in the coming years.