About Us

After forging successful careers in national planning consultancies and having accumulated some of the most versatile planning expertise in the North West, Deborah Smith and Graham Love decided they could offer their clients more. Founding Smith & Love in 2015, they decided it was time to put clients at the heart of the service, not revenue.

What if they could work with some great organisations, but in a more personable, genuine and much less transactional way?

Several years into the journey and with premises in the heart of Preston, their vision is in action – providing a high-quality output for their clients and an enjoyable place to work too.

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Graham Love is a chartered planning consultant with 27 years’ experience including ten years in senior roles in national consultancy before co-founding Smith & Love in 2015.

He has been involved with many major projects during his career and has a proven track record in managing multi-disciplinary teams and preparing and negotiating complex applications. He provides commercial advice, combining knowledge of the planning system with development, construction and procurement experience to minimise risk and add value.

Graham's continual desire to succeed shone through in helping to deliver the new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool. With an outstanding innovative design and an all-round collaborative team, including the City Council, he is proud of his involvement in this worthwhile project.


BA (Hons) Dip TP MRTPI

Before establishing Smith & Love in 2015 Deborah had enjoyed a short stint in local government at the start of her career before starting in private practice in 1999. Deborah met Graham whilst working together at Turley in its Manchester office.

Equality is a core value that runs through her work, the company and her interactions. She is particularly proud of her involvement in projects relating to the provision of assisted living housing and homes for older people. Excellent communication skills mean that Deborah is able to lead project teams, liaise effectively with local planning authorities and maintain long-standing and trusted client relationships.

With a long list of contacts in property and development, she established Lancashire Ladies in Property in 2019 with quarterly events held in Preston.



Mike Hughes is a chartered Town Planner with 19 years’ experience, the majority of which he has spent in the private sector. Mike joined Smith & Love in July 2019 and quickly took on the role of lead consultant for a popular restaurant chain dealing with their advertising and refurbishment program.

Mike has a particular interest in heritage matters and enjoys exploring the history associated with built development. In collaboration, he is able to seek out innovative solutions to meet client’s objectives and devise planning strategies drawn on extensive experience.



Sonja Swift has worked in town planning for over 30 years in local government, private practice, the Environment Agency and at a leading regional construction company. She enjoys developing good and long-standing working relationships with clients, consultants and local planning authorities.

Sonja is commercially driven and has extensive experience in the complexities of managing tight deadlines alongside commercial priorities, particularly when developers need to be on site.



Abigail Wignall has recently become a Chartered Member of the RTPI. Abigail joined Smith & Love in 2018 from Persimmon Homes, where she worked as part of the Land and Planning Team, responsible for land acquisition and gaining major residential planning permissions throughout the North West.

She is familiar with the commercial need to deliver projects on time and on budget. She assists the team with larger planning applications and appeals while working on smaller site appraisals and applications and appeals.


BA (Hons)

Thomas Schofield has recently graduated from the University of Liverpool with a Masters in Town & Regional Planning, after obtaining a Human Geography Degree from Edge Hill University.

Having joined Smith & Love in 2021 he assists the team with both minor and major and applications and appeals.  He is committed to delivering high quality work and value for clients. Through collaboration with his colleagues he has demonstrated an ability to handle both residential and commercial applications effectively.

As a fan of environmental documentaries, he has a particular interest in the impact of the built environment on communities and their environs and the wider benefits developments can deliver.