Simon McFarlane (2000 Leaver) – Planning, A Great Career….
I left Merchant Taylors’ in 2000 achieving 10 GCSE’s and 4 A levels in Economics, Geography, Design, and General Studies. I also gained a good grounding in many extracurricular sporting and cultural activities, CCF and playing rugby being the highlights. The school provided me with an excellent all around confidence for the world ahead of me.
I decided to study Town & County Planning at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. I had always had a keen interest in how the places we live are shaped. I considered that on a small Island with limited land and an ever growing emphasis on sustainability there will always be a need for planners. I graduated in 2005 with a BA Honours Degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Town & County Planning.
I was fortunate to graduate into a buoyant economic climate, the construction industry was booming and it wasn’t hard to find a job. Having had quite enough of the North East winters I migrated South and set up my own planning consultancy in Dorset. I spent the next 2½ years moving around different local authorities gaining valuable experience in the local government sector. The jobs involved determining planning applications, visiting development sites, liaising with developers, politicians, and interested members of the public.
The benefit of a planning career is that there are many different sectors. For example you can specialise in, Urban Regeneration, Environmental, Law, Historic, Retail, Public, and Private. Upon my return to the UK from a year off travelling I decided to get some experience in Environmental planning and secured a job with the Environment Agency (EA) in 2008. The EA is the government’s advisor on Flood Risk, Contamination, and Sustainability. My job entailed liaising with landowners, developers and local authorities to influence development plans and development proposals to incorporate environmental policies and enhancements. I spent another 2 ½ years in this job before the recession started to bite on public sector budgets.
After 5 years in Local Government organisations I had gained enough experience about how the planning system works and in 2011 decided to move into the private sector to gain experience in the House building Industry. I knew that the recession was going to come to an end soon and with growing populations and the serious lack of building for the previous few years, this industry was going to revive.
I secured a job for Churchill Retirement Living, the largest privately owned retirement housing provider in the UK and a Times Top 100 company. I currently work as a Senior Associate in the Planning Department and have responsibility for the South West Region. My job involves liaising with the land department to buy development sites to suit the companies’ requirements. I then lead a team of consultants to prepare planning applications to secure permission for retirement housing.
My latest project to achieve planning permission in Dorchester – 40 flats for people over 65.
The number of people aged 65 and over in the UK is set to grow from 10 million now to 17 million by 2033, with households aged 65+ accounting for over half of new households in the future. This is going to be a growing industry.
Planning gives you the chance to protect the environment, improve the economy, to work in local government, to travel overseas, to work for yourself, and be a vital part of a large private firm; to be part of those decisions which work towards a more sustainable world.
For more information;
Simon McFarlane BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI
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