Vanessa is a Graduate Planner in our Birmingham office. She joined Woods Hardwick in 2018, and over the last 18 months has been busy supporting our many clients through planning applications, appeals and appraisals. For any budding planners out there, find out what it’s really like working as part of a growing planning team – and how she is getting on during lockdown!
Before we get into your journey into planning, what’s it like for you in lockdown?
Working in lockdown is definitely a new experience, as I am sure many would agree. There is a contrast to the office environment but the main difference is that my work station is more mobile. It is like a game of “where should I work” roulette – sometimes in the living room, kitchen or back garden. Other than work related stuff, I have taken up baking more seriously and I have been able to tick off reading some of the books on my new year’s resolution reading list. Other than that, I am settling into the new normal.
What did you study at university?
I’ve always had an interest in environmental conservation and on leaving college, I was sure I would take up a career in Environmental Science. I studied Environmental Management at the University of Worcester. I was (and still am) really interested in sustainability and was elected Sustainability Officer while at university.
Why did you want to become a planner?
During my studies at Worcester, I took Town and Country Planning as an elective module – I knew immediately it was an area I was interested in. No two weeks were the same and I became particularly interested in mock inquiries and larger group discussions around hypothetical planning scenarios. My enthusiasm led me to pursue further studies in the planning field and I went on to obtain my Masters Degree in Town Planning at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).
What do you enjoy about working at Woods Hardwick?
I arrived at Woods Hardwick straight after I completed my studies at ARU. I was also fortunate enough to have gained some work experience as a planning technician at Wardell Armstrong, where I got involved in waste and minerals planning. Here in the Birmingham office there’s a strong team rapport and this extends to the other departments and the Bedford office. It’s easy to speak to each other, ask questions and share knowledge and I think this is one of the greatest attributes of our company.
What type of projects do you get involved in – and any that really stand out?
I have been involved in an array of projects so far, from minor to major scale planning applications, appeals, development appraisals and development plan work. The stand out projects are usually the ones that end up taking much longer than anticipated, but as long as we get to the finish line and the client is satisfied that is all that matters. We have recently secured planning for 34 new affordable homes in Bradwell Common, Milton Keynes – for Grand Union Housing Group.
What would you recommend to any budding planners? How do they make themselves stand out?
Since my arrival here, I have learned the importance of networking and learning to work with different stakeholders. My advice to budding planners would be to gain as much experience as possible and don’t be afraid to get out and network – there are so many opportunities to do so here in Birmingham!