Where do you work?
I am a Planning Officer at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council within the team tasked to bring forward the Local Development Plan. The Borough itself has 240km of spectacular coastline, with approximately 42% of the area covered by international, national and regional designations including a World Heritage Site and four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This highly complex environment makes it an exciting and challenging time to further sustainable development and ensure the integration of complex social, economic and environmental factors when plan-making.
Route into planning
Tell us about your route into planning
At school, Geography was always my favourite subject with a particular interest in human geography and decision-making modules. I had intended to study Geography at university, but a last minute flick through a prospectus brought my attention to Environment Planning at Queen’s University, Belfast which covered my interests and curiosity more. Following my degree, I graduated with a Masters in Urban and Rural Design which was a fantastic and enjoyable opportunity in developing urban and rural analysis and design skills through project based learning. I subsequently joined the former Department of the Environment as a Planning Assistant.
Helping the public
How does your role involve helping the public?
A key aspect of the new Local Development Plan process is to ensure public participation and the capturing of local views from the outset of the plan-making process. I have represented the Council at a series of public workshops and focused forums upon the publication of a ‘Preferred Options Paper’, and have been actively able to engage with the public and realise important local views and insights. As the LDP must take account of the Council’s Community Plan, it provides an important spatial reflection in working towards the same vision for the public.
Helping my community
Tell us about any work you’ve done to help your local community
As a Scout Leader, I play an active role in planning and delivering an exciting and balanced programme for the Section. Through this, I seek to enhance knowledge and understanding of how we can protect our environment and build a sustainable future, with projects including a community partnership with a Social Farm and Garden and introducing a ‘Path to Zero’ across the entire Scout Troop.
Within my former role as Chair of the Northern Ireland Young Planners , I was afforded the opportunity to outreach and engage with university students in promoting and inspiring the next generation of planners.
Your spare time
I love travelling and exploring new places, and most recently have taken the opportunity to explore the UK, including trips to Orkney and the Isle of Man. I thoroughly enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, cycling and even paddle boarding. Like a lot of people over the last two years, I have also tried to unearth my inner Mary Berry and like to bake and cook when I can.