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Fisher German’s Molly Phillips has gained a valuable insight into urban planning after taking part in the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI’s) annual work shadowing scheme. Molly, a graduate planner from the Ashby office, has spent the day at Nottingham City Council shadowing the work of Paul Seddon, Director of Planning and Regeneration at the authority, and his colleagues.

The Chief Planners of Tomorrow scheme, which Molly took part in before the government lockdown began, offers young planners an opportunity to step into the shoes of chief planners and senior directors from the RTPI’s learning partners for the day.

During the experience, Molly oversaw a number of functions and responsibilities, including:

  • A meeting regarding the public consultation of new masterplan
  • A meeting regarding the preparation of consultation responses to government’s First Home initiative
  • Meeting the heritage portfolio holder
  • Spending time with the area planning manager, going on a walking tour of key current and target development areas of the city
  • Spending time with the head of transport, discussing the importance of proactive work between other district/city councils
  • Meeting the regeneration and housing team
  • A discussion with the planning policy team regarding the preparation of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

Molly joined the Ashby planning team in September 2019 after studying a masters in International Planning and Sustainable Development at the University of Westminster. She is now working towards achieving Chartered Town Planner status.

Speaking about the experience, Molly said that it has given her an insight into the inner workings of a local authority planning department and the pressures faced, which will benefit her role at Fisher German.

She said: “I feel extremely privileged to have spent the day shadowing Paul and the team at Nottingham City Council, and it was a pleasure to spend time in such a bustling and proactive environment. In my role at Fisher German I mainly deal with greenfield and rural schemes, so I was keen to take part in RTPI’s shadowing initiative to gain an insight into the inner workings of a busy urban planning department.

“The amount of experience I gained in just one day was incredible, and I have learnt a lot which I will be able to refer back to in my current role. Seeing the inner workings of a local authority planning department first-hand will make it easier to explain to clients why certain decisions have been made by councils. It has given me a realistic understanding of the pieces of the jigsaw that they are trying to put together as well as the pressures and delays they can face, all of which will help when managing client expectations.

“Overall, I would say the experience had a very profound impact on me. It has definitely changed the way I work with local authorities and clients alike, and I would certainly recommend it to other young planners.”

Partner Kay Davies added: “Spending a day with Nottingham City Council gave Molly a real-life insight into a busy urban planning department. It has allowed her to understand the operation of the planning system from a local authority perspective, having spent her career to date in the private sector, and has given her knowledge and experience which she has already been able to utilise in her day to day role.”

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