Maryam Watson



working in planning


Masters in

Urban Planning



hockey player

A key element of my role is to promote excellent places and design for the benefit of the local community.

View from the BPD Manchester office

My role

Where do you work?

I work at BDP (Building Design Partnership) Ltd., a major international practice of architects, designers, engineers, and urbanists with studios located across the UK and worldwide. As a town planner working within the Manchester Urbanism team at BDP, I have the opportunity to work on a diverse range of both multidisciplinary and planning-led commissions including masterplanning projects, the production of design codes and planning policy documents, and the submission of major planning applications.

Maryam's graduation

Route into planning

Tell us about your route into planning

Although I have always had an interest in urban development, regeneration, and the built environment, my route into planning wasn’t entirely straightforward. In 2019, I completed my undergraduate degree in History at the University of Oxford, with my final year thesis focussing on the relationship between urban space and community identity. During my post-graduation job hunt, I stumbled upon the opportunity to join BDP as a Graduate Apprentice Town Planner (which was the first time I’d even heard of the profession!), meaning I would gain on-the-job experience as a Town Planner whilst spending one day a week studying part-time for an MSc in Urban Planning from Sheffield Hallam University. I completed my masters in 2021 and am currently preparing to submit my DA-APC.

How does your role involve helping the public?

  • The diverse range of projects we work on at BDP involve helping the public in different ways. I have worked closely with Local Planning Authorities to develop regeneration frameworks and policy documents that aim to steer development in a way that supports the needs of the public, environment and local economy. I have also supported Local Authorities in making successful bids for central government funding, such as the Future High Streets Fund, which results in direct investment into the improvement of public places.
  • Another aspect of my role involves the securing planning permission for new developments, whether those be residential, employment-led, leisure, education, or mixed-use. For all new development we aim to promote good design alongside a range of public benefits, such as environmental improvements, access to green space, and enhanced public realm.
At a consultation event with local school children

Helping my community

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

A key element of my role is to promote excellent places and design for the benefit of the local community. I have worked on a number of masterplanning and town centre regeneration commissions, where community consultation is vital to ensure that plans reflect the aspirations of the local community and that funding is directed towards regeneration measures that will have the greatest positive impact on the public. Presenting design proposals in an accessible and engaging way, and listening to the diversity of public opinion is important to encourage a sense of pride and ownership over new developments and regeneration initiatives alike.

Your spare time

What do you do when you are not planning?

When not in work, I am a keen runner and hockey player and also enjoy hiking, swimming, cycling, and spending time out in the Peak District. I also enjoy cooking (especially pasta) and enjoying a glass of wine in front of a good movie!