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Student Profile: Jay Saggerson


Course: MPlan in Urban and Environmental Planning, Sheffield Hallam University

Why did you choose to study planning?

In planning I feel that it is crucial to find your feet, and the best possible way to do this is to get Local Authority experience. Spending time in an officer role at a Local Authority will put you in a much better position to excel in the private sector. A planning role is no longer merely about making places, but it's now more about making communities and ensuring that places attract positive footfall. The best way to ensure this is by knowing the local area and working with the local council. Working for a Local Authority is key to understanding how the planning system really works and is a great place to work towards your MRTPI accreditation.

For as long as I can remember I have always had a keen interest in architecture, geography and sociology. I believe that town planning embraces all of those interests and is the only true profession which aims to balance the conflicting demands of society, the environment and the economy. Town planning covers a vast spectrum of career opportunities and ultimately keeps you on your toes- at all times! The reason I chose to study planning and become a planning officer is because I want to have an input in the success of well-designed and functional developments on a local, national, supra-national and global scale. Planning is a profession where things are constantly changing and where you are constantly learning: planners will always strive to improve areas for the better, no matter what the weather. I hope that in the future I can make a difference as we collectively strive towards sustainability.

What has been the best thing about studying planning? 

Town planning is a complex interrelationship of many factors, including: theory, urban design, geography, economics, policy and politics. The factors involved in the make-up of town planning and what it aims to achieve is endless. Studying for four years at university has allowed me to understand the complex structure of town planning and the overall aims and objectives of the profession. During my studies I have enjoyed working with planners, architects, urban-designers, geographers, conservationists and surveyors; I have undoubtedly gained the most enjoyment in working with a multi-disciplinary team of aspiring students to create functional developments and effective planning solutions. I have thoroughly relished my studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

Where is planning going to take you?

There are so many opportunities for planners all over the world and I feel thrilled and privileged to be at the beginning of such an exciting career. I am currently working in Local Authority and I plan to stay working for the public sector for the foreseeable future so that I can really come to grips with how the planning process truly works. I hope to get some planning experience abroad, and I have a particular interest in working in Australia. My overall aim for the future is to work for a multi-disciplinary company that is involved in large-scale schemes in the UK and abroad. I have a passion for urban design and would like to pursue this interest in my career, I feel that working for a multi-disciplinary company will allow me to do this and will provide me with the appropriate level of experience to set up my own company in the future.

Why would you recommend that students consider a career in planning?

I would recommend planning to anybody who has an interest in how rural and urban environments are molded, and the processes behind the development of these areas. Planning is an exciting and rewarding career and the system is constantly changing; it encompasses such a vast variety of topics and you will never stop learning.  Town planning is exceedingly interesting, stimulating and thought-provoking; it is a statutory obligation, development is on the rise and the planning industry is experiencing a recruitment boom. Planning workplaces are taking on more ambitious projects and current trends in job growth are reflecting the start of the planning industry's recovery from austerity. Now is the perfect time to study a planning profession and work towards becoming a chartered town planner. 

The RTPI supports each accredited Planning School by offering a student prize to be awarded  to a high performing student. Jay received the RTPI Student Prize 2014-15 for his studies at Sheffield Hallam University. 

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