Graduate Planner, GVA
I have long had a fascination with geography, particularly cities and the built environment. This led me to four years of thought-provoking, insightful study at the University of Sheffield, from where I graduated in 2010 with an MPlan 'Masters in Planning' degree.
Upon leaving university I accepted a job as a Graduate Planner at GVA in Birmingham, joining the firm in August 2010. I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunities to develop the breadth and depth of my experience in my time at GVA.
Initially, I prepared site appraisals, in which I would carry out extensive research and pull together the relevant material considerations to reach informed judgements on the acceptability of developing a site in principle, and if so, the uses that would be most appropriate.
My experience broadened as I became increasingly tasked with preparing, submitting and managing planning applications through to their successful conclusion on behalf of clients. This included the management of technical consultants. Similarly, I became more involved in forward planning work as I assisted in the promotion of sites through emerging development plans by preparing appropriate representations to local authorities.
As my core skills developed, I was given the chance to take on more 'specialist' work. I contributed to the preparation of retail statements to support planning applications for new convenience floorspace. Often I would be required to assess the vitality and viability of local centres and analyse the suitability of vacant sites. My conclusions were critical to the impact and sequential assessments which accompanied the applications.
I was also given the opportunity to learn about planning and compulsory purchase, working with colleagues to prepare 'planning assumption' reports, which assist valuers in determining compensation payable to claimants.
Miles' top tips for future candidates:
- Log Books: whilst it can be difficult to juggle L-APC commitments alongside full-time work, as I found, regularly updating your log book will stand you in good stead. It provides an invaluable reference tool when preparing your written submission and will save you struggling to remember the type of work you undertook at the beginning of your Licentiate period.
- Explain and Reflect: when preparing your Professional Competence Statement, remember to explain why you took a particular course of action, don't simply describe what you did. Reflect on your judgements/actions and be self-critical. Don't be afraid to state what you might have done differently. This is how I was able to demonstrate to my assessors that I have learnt from my experiences and developed as a planner.
- Signpost: make sure that you explicitly draw links between your case studies and the assessment criteria so that an assessor can clearly see where you have addressed each criterion.
- Seminars: if you can, attend a seminar on the L-APC run by the RTPI. I found them highly informative, offering a chance to ask any questions I had about the process.
- Link Each Component: make sure that each element of the written submission inter-relates. For example, where I had noted a lack of experience/skills in my PCS, I was sure to convey this in my PDP and show, through my objectives, how I would address these matters going forward.
- Writing and Presentation: make sure your submission is well written and presented. The word limits for each component are tight, so be sure to be clear and concise. Perhaps the sagest piece of advice I received was that a non-planner should be able to read your submission and then describe back to you what your job entails. I followed this advice and found it extremely beneficial!
Please note: To stay fit for purpose, L-APC requirements do change over time. For the most up to date advice please always refer to the L-APC Guidance on the Licenitate APC webpage. Candidate details provided here are current at time of L-APC submission in 2013.