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Isabella Frost: Chief Planners of Tomorrow - A Day at Mott MacDonald

As part of the RTPI's Chief Planners of Tomorrow Initiative, the Mott MacDonald Town Planning Team in Birmingham recently hosted Isabella, a placement student currently working in the planning policy team at Northumberland County Council. The initiative is a work shadowing scheme offering RTPI Young Planners the chance to learn from those who currently hold senior leadership roles, to see first-hand how strategic decisions are made.

During the day each member of the Town Planning Team gave Isabella an overview of their current projects and also provided insight into the tasks they undertake day-to-day as planning professionals, the importance of RTPI chartership and the working relationships that Mott MacDonald has with external partners. Isabella describes her experience of the day below:

I recently had the pleasure of spending the day shadowing Luke Coffey, Midlands Town Planning Lead, at Mott MacDonald as part of the RTPI’s Chief Planners of Tomorrow Initiative. Mott MacDonald is a global engineering, management, and development consultancy. It was interesting to learn how the planning service can be integrated with other services.

I was warmly greeted by the team and shown around the office. Luke put together a timetable for the day which allowed me to learn about various projects. The agenda included a walking tour of the University of Birmingham Campus, followed by discussions with different members of the team regarding their involvement in various projects such as the School Rebuilding Programme, HS2 and residential schemes.

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Isabella visited University Station with the team

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Isabella with the team at Mott MacDonald

The walking tour of the University of Birmingham Campus was an exciting and fun part of the day – especially as the sun came out for us! I was fascinated by the range of projects Mott MacDonald has been involved in, including University Station and the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre. I very much appreciated the time Luke had taken to talk through all the different projects in detail, it was insightful to see first-hand the variety of projects he has been a part of. I was particularly interested in the redevelopment of the University Station and footbridge and how it enhanced public space linking the station with existing bus stops and hospitals.

The afternoon consisted of me meeting with different members of the team and discussing projects they have been involved with. This allowed me the opportunity to participate in different discussions, not just to shadow. In doing so, I was able to inform the team about some of the work I carry out as a student planner in the planning policy team at Northumberland County Council, allowing us to reflect on some of the similarities within which we work.

The discussions ranged from an overview of the School Rebuilding Programme for the Department for Education to the involvement in HS2 notably the consenting process involved with Europe’s largest infrastructure project, as well as residential schemes and heritage-based projects.

I want to give a huge thank you to the Royal Town Planning Institute for arranging the event, and to Luke Coffey and the team at Mott MacDonald for being so welcoming and taking the time to give me an overview and involve me in the variety of projects that they are working on.  


You can find our more about Chief Planners of Tomorrow here. The next round of applications will be in 2024. 

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