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Young Planner of the Year 

Melissa Balk

Melissa has demonstrated excellent leadership skills and an eagerness to develop when charged with running the Bedford-based planning team at short notice. She is a team player who cares deeply about her local area, immersing herself in the local plan and business development opportunities and the vital role planning plays in improving the community, particularly through biodiversity and rural projects. She is also passionate about mental health and well-being and uses her platform through the RTPI and Women in Planning to advocate for its inclusion in national planning policy.

Judges' comments: The judges are impressed by the depth of experience Melissa has already acquired. Taking a leadership role on behalf of Fisher German for the Bedford planning team at such an early career stage is highly commendable.

Melissa brings tremendous enthusiasm to the planning profession, both demonstrated by her professional achievements to date and various RTPI-related volunteering.

The judges applaud Melissa's successes and wish her well in her future endeavours in the planning profession. 


Young Planner of the Year Highly Commended

Christian Cardiss

Although only two years into his career, Christian has developed a wealth of skills at One planning and Lanpro, where he will continue to grow. His enthusiasm for planning is clear to see. Christian has already made a significant contribution through his volunteer work at the RTPI and Urbanist Platform, which is sure to continue as he builds on his successes and already has committed to in the future through his role as Vice-Chair of the East of England Young Planners. He really does have a bright future ahead of him.

Judges' comments: Christian is a talented young professional for Lanpro Planning Services, and his experience is growing fast. His experience already stretches from large mixed-use schemes to small-scale barn conversions.  

Christian's enthusiasm and originality are evident. He is part of the RTPI Young Planners Committee in the East of England, has written on planning topics for the Urbanist Platform, and volunteers as an ambassador to promote STEM subjects in schools and colleges.

The judges highly commend his success and wish him well in what undoubtedly will be a fine career.