Town Planner

Laura Hemsley


years working

in planning


Masters in

Town Planning




Volunteering has played a key role in my route into planning. Time spent volunteering is time well spent.

Views from the Jacobs office, Cotton Centre, London Bridge
International Women’s Day coffee and cake event

Where do you work?

I work as a Town Planner at Jacobs. I joined in 2022 and I have been working on submitting planning applications for the widening of the A12 between junction 19 (Chelmsford) and junction 25 (A120 interchange) to ease congestion and cope with increasing traffic demands.

I have been fully supported by the Planning Lead on the project who has offered support and guidance in areas in which I was struggling in. She encouraged me to have my own input and opinions and we have established a great working relationship. I have gained high levels of trust from the project team, allowing me to take on further responsibilities and enabling me to develop my skill sets further.

A typical day involves various client meetings with Costain to go through the updates of each live planning application. This includes understanding the deliverables and what additional information is needed for each application.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Jacobs recently organised a coffee and cake event, where I met a variety of people from different disciplinary backgrounds. It was great to meet new people within the company, and discuss how we can all embrace equity, this year’s theme.  

Route into planning

Tell us about your route into planning

I firstly stumbled into Town Planning Recruitment and found out that it wasn’t for me. From undertaking the Town Planning Recruitment job, I understood more about Town Planning and Planning jobs available. I gained insight into mineral planning. Now having undertaken a Geological Science degree at the University of Leeds, I became fascinated in Mineral Planning and the future I could have in this area. As a result, I decided to undertake an RTPI accredited Town Planning Masters at the University of Brighton.

While undertaking the full Town Planning MSc I secured a job as a Planning Policy Research officer at Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) in October 2021. During the Town Planning MSc, I undertook a module called ‘Environmental Placement’. This involved working for either for a local planning authority (LPA) or a private planning consultancy for 3 months. As I was already working at an LPA, I would be positioned within the private planning sector for the placement.  


How has volunteering helped you in your route into planning?

  • As someone said to me before, time spent volunteering is time well spent, and I couldn’t agree more which is why volunteering has played a key role in my route into planning. I meet with the RTPI South Coast Young Planners Steering Group online every month. In the meetings we discuss upcoming CPD events, planning social events and other key events like our annual Planning San Frontiers Planners Day. It’s great to be involved in such a dynamic group and deliver exciting events for Young Planners in the South Coast!
  • There have been so many opportunities including being Vice Chair of the RTPI Young Planner Committee and Vice Chair of the RTPI SCYP. I have been able to develop my leadership, management and public speaking skills which I regularly use in my day-to-day working life. I would encourage everyone to consider volunteering as the benefits are endless.

Helping the public

How does your role involve helping the public?

The role of the planning application would be to optimise and allow the main construction works of the A12 Development Consent Order to commence and be completed earlier, delivering the benefits of the scheme to the public as soon as practicable.

The national infrastructure project has had significant engagement with members of the public. This has included taking on their comments and feedback which has been at the forefront of the design within the development.

Benefits of this major infrastructure schemes are environmental, social, and economic which are the key principles and at the heart of the NPPF as outlined in paragraph 8.

It would improve important economic link, improving safety for road users, improvements for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and public transport users, to give them better connections and safer, more enjoyable journeys.

My community

Tell us about any work you’ve done to help your local community

The national infrastructure project has included significant engagement with members of the public. This has included having a meeting with Hatfield Peverel Parish Council to update the Parish Council on the proposals and to inform them of the intention to undertake a letter drop to residents and businesses in the immediate area. Discussions focused on the planning application and the traffic and environmental mitigations. The presentation was received positively, and no comments or concerns were raised.

A view of my Lego rollercoasters

Your spare time

What do you do when you are not planning?

When I am not planning, I play Badminton at a club and play competitively league matches in the West Sussex area. I love to collect and build Lego, which I find extremely relaxing creating your own little world. I also enjoy going on road cycling journeys, which is great as I am able to get outdoors, have some fresh air and see the West Sussex countryside.