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From recruiting Town Planners to Working in the Field

From recruiting Town Planners to Working in the Field - written by Christina Sriramula, RTPI Member

I was inspired ever since my first job as a Graduate Recruiter in 2017 where I was involved in building a rapport with Town Planners to understand their role. Little to my knowledge, I would be undertaking those responsibilities. This was the beginning of my journey and now pursuing a MA in Chartered Town Planning at London South Bank University to gain professional recognition and status as a Chartered Town Planner.

I currently work for Westminster City Council in the Planning department. With its international recognition and spotlight on Westminster, there are high expectations. It is one of the busiest Planning Authority’s in the UK with over 11,000 listed buildings and no doubt the heightened challenges in the current pandemic. Nevertheless, the support and assistance from my colleagues and peers has been remarkable.

Town Planning is not often heard of within my social sphere, nor is everyone knowledgeable about it. I often define it as a niche yet a crucial role in making history and shaping our future towns and cities. With little knowledge of Town Planning, my academic background in Criminology has coincidentally been a useful base to discover the unique correlation between Town Planning and Crime for example, permitting the development of security measures to deter and resolve crime as a social issue. In most recent months, Town Planning has become a ‘hot topic’ and a key driver in hopes to save our retail sector, high streets and deliver more green spaces.

So far, I have learnt on the different urban dimensions used to redevelop an area and the various planning theories, which has been thoroughly valuable alongside my work. Furthermore, access to the RTPI membership has been edifying to broaden my learnings through webinars on current planning debates and challenges. For students like myself pursuing the chartered status, RTPI has also been informative in providing guidance on the End of Point Assessment.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, our physical engagements may have been ‘paused’, nevertheless it has opened doors and platforms to deliver more efficiently with the convenience of technology at our fingertips. The morning rush hour commute and physical meetings are no longer current norms but a shift away from the standard 9-5 working shift pattern. This flexibility has been advantageous for me to gain extensive experience by drafting delegated reports, attending committee callovers and pre-app discussions with stakeholders, all within six months of my course and virtually. The benefits of technology can often be underestimated - needless to say, my colleagues are always receptive to share their wealth of knowledge and experience to help fulfil my role. The joys of learning online have been the aptitude to take detailed notes in pre-recorded lectures, access tutor support almost instantly and engage in seminars with new perspectives. It has certainly enhanced the element of flexibility and communication to share valuable knowledge and build effective networks. Therefore, this compelled shift to the virtual world has proven its benefits towards a more collaborative and a healthy work-study balance.