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Head Planner of the Year

Karen Syrett

Karen has worked in local authorities for over 30 years and was one of the first women in the East to be promoted to a senior management level in Planning at a Local Authority. Currently the Lead Officer for Planning and Place Strategy at Colchester Borough Council, she is influential in the delivery of the Local Plan. Karen also holds a key directional role in Development Management. Karen is a strong and well-respected figure for the Council. She is a true role model for her teams.

Judges' comments: Karen is recognised by her colleagues as a role model for the next generation of planners and is committed to continuing the improvement of her teams and professional practice. Her work with the Planning Advisory Service, Local Government Association and Women in Property shows her commitment to promoting the profession beyond the day-to-day role of a Head of Service.



Head Planner of the Year Highly Commended

Philip Ridley

Philip is the reason many at East Suffolk work there and stay there. He dispelled the image of planning as being boring and anti-development. His proactive, forward-thinking mentality resonated with staff and developers and the community and has led to some fantastic developments. He has up-to-date local plans and manages a forward-thinking coastal management team and building control team that span boundaries and promotes cross-boundary working. If it wasn't for Philip, East Suffolk would not be exceptional and would not have the calibre of staff it has.

Judges' comments: Philip Ridley is highly regarded by his colleagues, who put the success of the planning department at the Council down to his "enthusiasm, drive and can-do attitude." This attitude is evident in his ability to successfully develop and maintain effective and productive relationships, which is a crucial aspect of the role of a successful Head of Service.