Following my undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Bristol, I attained a Master's degree in Town and Country Planning from the University of the West of England. During my studies, I developed a particular interest in urban regeneration, and specifically cultural-led regeneration. I was able to pursue this interest further through both my undergraduate dissertation and my master's dissertation. After graduating in 2011, I accepted an opportunity to continue my independent research with a PhD at the University of Bristol, alongside an additional responsibility to deliver a three-year teaching programme. My PhD research explored how the 2008 financial crisis, and subsequent austerity politics, impacted existing approaches to urban regeneration strategies in the UK, while also giving rise to novel alternatives.
My PhD was an incredible learning experience, and I wanted to bring this learning into the world of planning practice. I joined the Savills planning team in Bristol in September 2015, and since joining, I have been fortunate to be involved in a diverse range of interesting and challenging projects across the UK. These projects, which include residential schemes, industrial developments, student accommodation and retail planning, have helped me to develop a well-rounded understanding of different aspects of the profession. I am also working on a number of large-scale mixed use urban regeneration schemes, and this has allowed me to both apply, and enhance, my previous experience in this area.
Experience of the L-APC process:
Gaining Chartered membership has been a very important personal achievement for me for two reasons. First, the process itself has allowed me to both reflect on the experiences I have gained to date in the area of urban regeneration, and to consider how I can develop this specialism further in the future. Second, becoming a Chartered Member is crucial to my ongoing career progression, and as I progress, I will seek to continue to contribute to the profession as a whole.
Ciaran's top tips for future candidates:
- Know the L-APC guidance inside out. Familiarise yourself with the L-APC Guidance document and assessment criteria at an early stage and always have it open when you are updating your log book.
- Carefully consider your choice of case studies. It is important to recognise that the most interesting projects may not necessarily be the best case studies for demonstrating how you meet the L-APC competencies. While a certain amount of description is necessary, ultimately, your Professional Competence Statement (PCS) is about your own role and explaining how the decisions you made, and your subsequent actions, enabled the case study to move forward. Make it easy for the assessor by ensuring your submission clearly demonstrates how you have met each competency. Relevant references to the log book are also important, particularly to show, for example, how you recognised a need for development in year one, and how you achieved this in year two.
- Make the most of your mentor. I found it helpful to have a mentor who had been through the L-APC process relatively recently. Their familiarity with the existing guidance made it much easier to discuss the competencies, refine my PDP and continually question the learning outcomes.
- Give yourself plenty of time. It is important not to rush your submission, and only submit when you are confident that you have gained sufficient experience to meet the assessment criteria.
- Be specific in your Professional Development Plan (PDP). Your actions should be clearly measurable and achievable, with a clear indication of the timeframe involved. Space is limited in this section so I found it useful to have a single goal, followed by a linked series of detailed objectives and actions.
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 2015.