Where do you work?
I work as a Graduate Planner for KEW Planning, an independent planning consultancy based in Cardiff. We deliver planning for a range of sectors, including residential, education, leisure, and commercial across both Wales and England. I have also been involved in Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) with Local Planning Authorities, allowing me to be exposed to both the private and public sector.
At KEW Planning we provide a personal yet professional service. Being a small consultancy, this approach allows us to get to know our clients to truly understand their goals and ambitions for development projects, ensuring their desired outcomes are delivered.
Route into planning
Tell us about your route into planning
My first experience of planning was during my work experience with Swansea City Council’s Planning Department in the summer of 2018, whilst studying BSc Human Geography. During my time with the Council, I learnt about the Swansea Bay City Deal and the regeneration projects which would come forward as part of the deal, including the Swansea Arena and Llanelli’s Life Science and Well-Being Village.
The powerful impact of planning on the built environment, the local economy, and an area’s sense of place was made clear to me during this time, and I became excited at the thought of being involved in similar schemes which would bring prosperity, opportunities, and growth to places in Wales, especially those which have suffered from deprivation and a lack of investment.
This led me to study a master’s degree in Spatial Planning and Development at Cardiff University. Towards the end of my master’s degree, I was lucky enough to receive a Santander scholarship which included a placement with KEW Planning, and the rest is history!
Helping the public
How does your role involve helping the public?
Through delivering much-needed development in local communities – whether it be new schools, residential development, or the conversion of vacant buildings to a beneficial use – much of my work involves ensuring the public is at the forefront of the planning process. For example, during the process of securing planning permission for a new teaching block, I met with the Local MP to discuss the concerns raised by local residents, such as congestion. As a result, we ensured the development was utilised as an opportunity to introduce a modal shift amongst staff and students through suggesting additional measures for the new Travel Plan, demonstrating that local residents were listened to and heard.
Working as part of Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) with Councils has also given me the ability to ensure certain local issues are raised and addressed during the determination of planning applications. For example, I recently met with a Community Parish Council to discuss their concerns relating to the lack of active travel routes within the vicinity of forthcoming medium-scale residential schemes. This understanding of local issues allowed me to push for contributions towards active travel routes, ensuring the local community had access to safe, accessible, sustainable routes.
Tell us about any work you’ve done to help your local community
Outside my working hours as a planner, I’m a volunteer for Planning Aid Wales. This gives me the opportunity to help individuals, families, organisations, charities, or small businesses who need planning advice.
During my time as a volunteer, I have advised families battling enforcement notices; advised local businesses on the planning issues to consider in preparation of a planning application; and helped local residents object to planning applications where the proposals had an adverse impact on their amenity.
Your spare time
What do you do when you are not planning?
I enjoy running and hiking in my spare time, allowing me to keep fit and healthy whilst also appreciating the beauty in the natural environment… and the built environment of course! I’m currently training for the Cardiff Half Marathon to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society and the incredible work they do.
I also love travelling, whether it be interrailing across Europe, skiing, or sunbathing on a beach with a book in hand!