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World Town Planning Day 2022

In celebration we thought what better way but to get insight and commentary from those that work in the planning profession – from both the perspective of youth and of wisdom! David Hall is Associate Director with over 50 years’ experience and Holly Becket is a Graduate Planner having joined us through our Graduate Training Scheme last year – and both work alongside each other in our Wokingham office.

David says, “As we celebrate World Town Planning day, I can’t help thinking of my first encounter with Town Planning and that my entering the profession was purely by chance. It was a chance call to an LPA, after leaving school, to discover what Town Planners actually did. This was  five-minute conversation (a short one for us planners), I was interested, it was immediate because I was accepted within a week of that “fateful” call and I then went to one of the few planning courses recognised by the RTPI and I was in! This was quite a long time ago, to give this context , it was at a time when the name Abercrombie was a noble name associated with planning not one half of an American clothing brand!

“I have over the years discovered planning is cyclical, I have experienced the inclusion of Regional Planning, the exclusion of regional planning, the inclusion of zoning, via the old town maps, the exclusion of zoning and a suggestion that zoning might be re-included. Throughout all of this vacillation by various governments of whatever hue the profession has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to whatever changes, and as I suggest there have been many, which have thrown at it by successive Governments.

“The NPPF in its initial iteration sought to consolidate a plethora Circulars, Ministerial statements, Development Control Policy Notes, MPPG’s, PPG’s etc, etc.  I thought the rationality would herald a new rational approach by Government to simplify their approach to planning policy sadly not, it was a false dawn, the continual tinkering to satisfy political expediency has been the mantra and continues to prevail. It is worth remembering that the legislative base has its roots in 1948.  a new dawn, I live in hope.

“Despite all of this Town Planning remains a fantastic profession, there are opportunities to pursue professions within “the profession”. Design, Urban Planning, Legal, policy, practical application through development management (formerly DC) etc, I do not believe that any other professions offer such wide-ranging opportunity. In my time I have worked in local government, overseas and in the private sector. The planning professions is close knit and I have met and continue to meet  fantastic people in the planning profession.

“World Town Planning Day is a day to celebrate our fantastic profession.”

Holly says, “As I reflect on David’s first encounter into the planning industry many many years ago (sorry David), I also found myself, by chance, falling into the industry. I’ve always found interest in the built environment, and during my student years I’d managed to gain some experience in property development, however at this point my knowledge on planning was very limited. After returning to England from my working ski season in Canada due to the pandemic, I decided to start looking at options for my career. I came across planning roles through LinkedIn and Indeed and thought ‘yeah that seems like something I’d be interested in’. This subsequently led me to identifying an Urban and Regional Planning Masters Course at the University of Birmingham and off I went! Thankfully, I really enjoyed the course and subsequently secured myself a graduate role at Boyer mid-way though my Masters.

“As a relatively new addition to the planning profession, my experience of the industry has felt rather turbulent with what appears to be politicians not following through on their proposals and continuously toying with the system to satisfy political expediency. We’ve seen the abandonment of the Planning for the Future White Paper and now the steer towards Levelling Up. As David has pointed out during his many years of experience observing similar traits, it makes me question whether consistency and much needed change to the planning system will only ever be something we hope and dream of, never a reality. However, that is why our role is so vital, being up to date on all proposed changes (whether they are followed through or not), so we can consistently provide professional and detailed knowledge to support our clients. The complexity of the system is really what keeps us in a job!

“When I first joined the profession, all fresh faced and bushy tailed, I was so oblivious to the different opportunities that the planning industry presented, appeals, planning applications, strategic planning, permitted development rights , master planning, and environmental impact assessments to name just a few. There are so many routes or specialties that you can go down, you can never get bored… well I haven’t yet! Whilst I also may be in the planning sector, I never would have believed that I would have a well-versed understanding of drainage implications to a development and highways impacts, you really do learn it all! Working in this profession has opened my eyes to the different avenues available to me throughout my career and how you are consistently learning, even after hundreds of years in the industry…like David. “


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