A week in the life of a Planner

By Abigail Kos, Planning Consultant

We asked Smith & Love Planning Consultant, Abigail Kos, to keep a diary of her work for one week to show what working in Planning really looks like.

My week started with a site appraisal on behalf of a local house builder. I have been asked to advise on whether an old farm site in the Green Belt has any potential for residential development and the likelihood of securing planning permission.

I visited the site to assess various factors and identify any issues or constraints that might impact on any planning decisions, including the volume of the farm buildings, its previous uses and the site’s proximity to local services and facilities.

I also considered what’s referred to as ‘residential amenity’ – this is the potential effects of the development on surrounding residents and includes, for example, noise, potential traffic impact and daylight amongst other considerations.

I’ll prepare an appraisal which will also include my research on the site’s planning history, similar applications in the area and planning policy.

The first of many meetings this week was with an architect who visited our office. We are working together on a five-unit residential scheme, within the open countryside in Preston, and met to discuss the proposed layout and planning strategy. We find it helps to meet the architect as early as possible to ensure that planning considerations are reflected in the design.

My second meeting was with representatives from the highways authority and local authority environmental health department to discuss an advert application for a digital sign.

Following a site visit last week, I then spent some time working on a sequential test for a site in the Ribble Valley. This will form part of the planning application for a mixed-use development, including a care home, 48 bungalows, drive-thru coffee shop, convenience store, industrial units and petrol filling station. The sequential test is part of a Government strategy to support town centres. It is intended to identify alternative sites, in and around the town centre, which might be more suitable or available for the development.

Following my request for pre-application advice on a scheme of 40 dwellings in Clitheroe, I received a positive response. This means it’s likely we will now work with the client to prepare and submit a planning application within the coming weeks.

Later in the week, we had a team meeting to discuss what everyone is working on and what’s coming up. Being part of an independent business means there is the opportunity to work on a variety of projects and be part of discussions that you might not in a larger company such as business development plans and company strategy. I enjoy working on the marketing and events side of the business as well as planning.

Finally, I have been keeping an eye on live planning applications which I have prepared and submitted, of which there are almost 30. Some local authorities have a notification system in place where updates are directly sent; others require me to manually check the planning portal. In some cases, a planning case officer will also make contact with enquires for me to respond to. It’s good to establish a good working relationship with a case officer and work together to overcome any planning issues to see a successful result.

As always my week has been fairly diverse which keeps things interesting.