Our main role as planners is to make life easier for everyone. We are one of the professions that work behind the scenes to make sure there’s power when you turn on the light, transport infrastructure to get you to work, running water when you turn on the tap. When I see infrastructure up and running, I’m proud to say I had something to do with that.
At the forefront of making an impact
I grew up in Liverpool where I was lucky to be surrounded by so many fabulous buildings such as the Liver Building and the Albert Dock. I’ve always loved architecture and helping people. But I didn’t know how to take these interests and turn them into a career that I loved. It was an advisor at school who suggested I consider a career in town planning. I’d never heard of it before, but I did some research and it turned out to be the answer I was looking for.
As planners, we are at the forefront of making an impact and improving people’s lives. We are currently facing a housing crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, as well as health inequalities in towns and cities all over the UK. It is a great profession if you want to play an active role in shaping communities – whether in energy, environment, infrastructure or transport.
Addressing social issues all over the UK
Infrastructure has the potential to accentuate social issues, but good infrastructure, focused on people and social and economic outcomes can be truly transformative. The planning process provides an opportunity to lock-in those positive benefits at the start of a project.
For example, we are in a period of high energy costs and household bills. While it is not an overnight solution, investment in the UK’s energy infrastructure, whether renewable energy generation like wind or solar or the use of hydrogen to replace natural gas will help provide a clean, secure and affordable supply but also support jobs and reduce environmental impact.
The UK is also in the midst of a housing crisis. We face a challenge to build enough new houses to meet demand and keep costs down. Many people are suffering – not least first-time buyers, young people, separated families, and key workers. As planners, we work to ensure the right development is built for people and communities. Our job is to ensure housing developments delivers against the requirements and that we leave a place better than we found it.
The Planner Magazine’s Women of Influence 2022
I am a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and I have been an elected member of their General Assembly for two years now; informing the strategy for the Institute, and getting planning out there as a profession that's worth joining.
I was very proud to be recently named by The Planner magazine in their list of Women of Influence 2022 for my contributions to the industry. It was unexpected, but it makes me happy to know people think my work is making a difference. I hope this recognition of more than 50 incredible women, many of whom I look up to, can inspire more people to follow in my footsteps.
Inclusion and diversity in planning
In 2020 I co-founded the BAME Planner’s Network, which won the RTPI Special Presidential Award for promoting inclusion and diversity within the profession.
The Network’s main focus is on raising the profile and visibility of black and minority ethnic (BAME) planners; providing support for members to achieve their professional goals; encouraging more BAME into the planning profession; and to collaborate with other organisations to eliminate discrimination within the workplace.
Planning is such a rewarding career and there is a place for everyone in it. My aim is to open up the profession to as many people as possible – across all cultural backgrounds, life stages, ages – and to say, we really need you to join us and play a pivotal role in helping to shape the UK.