Four candidates were awarded commendations by the Membership Assessment Advisory Panel (MAAP) for submitting high quality APC submissions in 2021.
Below these candidates share their top tips for those looking to apply.
Applied Through: Experienced Practitioner APC (EP-APC)
Commended: PCS only
Bachelor of Planning (Honours) – University of Auckland
While I was studying for my planning degree in New Zealand, I undertook an internship at Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency). In this role, I worked with the policy and statutory planning teams on a range of projects, including local plan development and responding as a statutory consultee on planning applications. I found an internship really valuable while studying as I was able gain experience and understand how what I was learning through my coursework was applied in practice.
Following graduation, I began work at a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Aurecon where I worked in the Environment and Planning team. As a consultant, I gained substantial experience consenting infrastructure projects as well as inputting into the development of business cases and undertaking Social Impact Assessments.
I moved to London in 2019 where I have worked for consultancies Jacobs and COWI whilst seconded to the Lower Thames Crossing project. There are opportunities to be involved in a range of planning matters on major projects which I found valuable when it came to identifying case studies to use for my PCS.
Since gaining my chartership, I have moved into the role of Deputy Negotiations Lead to continue engagement with the local authorities and to lead the negotiation of Section 106 agreements.
Make sure all parts of your application speak to each other – it should all read as one submission. The reflection component of the PCS is valuable and should inform your PDP. Reflecting on aspects that did not go to plan is just as important to recognise within your submission and development needs should also feed into your PDP.
Range of case studies - use case studies that cover different competencies rather than focusing on including the largest or most complex pieces of work you've done. Some of the smaller pieces of work I had undertaken more clearly covered the competencies and provided a simpler narrative for the assessor to follow. I found it helpful to map out the competencies within each case study before drafting my PCS. Make sure you read and re-read the APC Main Guidance as there are some helpful tips in there.
Wording from the competency - use some of the key terminology from each of the competencies outlined in the APC Main Guidance throughout the submission. I received feedback from my mentor on the first draft of my submission that I was being too implicit, and it was not always clear which competencies I was addressing within each case study. It's worth being as clear as possible (even if it feels like you are stating the obvious) rather than relying on the assessor to read between the lines.
Applied Through: Licentiate APC (L-APC)
Commended: Whole submission
BA (Hons) Geography with International Study at University of Manchester (2011-2015)
MCD Town and Regional Planning at University of Liverpool (part-time 2017-2019)
I began work as a Graduate Planning Officer at Manchester City Council in September 2017 where I had a caseload of planning applications to assess, negotiate and ultimately determine. Predominantly commercial and higher education developments in the centre of Manchester. Alongside my work, my employer supported me to undertake a part-time Masters in Planning at the University of Liverpool.
In November 2020 I began a new role as a Planning and Enabling Manager with Homes England, the government’s housing accelerator. In this role I oversee a variety of small- and large-scale projects where I seek to de-risk land and deliver planning certainty to help develop new housing in the North West of England.
It’s never too early to start your journal – I started my journal several months before the 2 year start date. It helped me get into the swing of writing about my work, and also reflecting on what I had learnt. It’s also much easier to write about your work experiences as they are happening, rather than trying to remember two years later! I was certainly thankful that I started early when it came to submission.
Make use of your mentor and others – I was fortunate to have a mentor who had overseen several APC submissions. She was able to use her experience of previous submissions to point out where I wasn’t being clear enough in my essay. I also approached other colleagues who had submitted recently, this was really useful as their advice and experience reflected the latest RTPI guidance.
Stick to Planning – planners can get called in to all kinds of tasks during their day job, such as project management, budgeting, staff resourcing. These are all vital skills which are very useful to your job, but they aren’t always directly applicable to the APC key competencies. I was helpfully encouraged to focus on the planning work I did - in the examples I used in my submission, and avoid talking about some of the examples which are less relevant to planning.
Applied Through: Licentiate APC (L-APC)
Commended: PES and PCS only
BSc (Hons) Geography – Aberystwyth University
MSc International Planning and Development – Cardiff University
Following my Masters, I moved to Reading and started as a Graduate Planner at Pegasus Group where I undertook a variety of tasks including site appraisals, preparation and submission of planning applications and assisting with the project management on various schemes. As part of my role, I attended several networking events which helped me grow my professional relationships with individuals across several sectors.
In my current role as Senior Planner, I have been involved in a variety of projects ranging from minor applications to large residential and film studio schemes, with experience advising clients on residential and commercial proposals across the South of England. This has involved managing relationships with clients and stakeholders and leading on discussions with Local Planning Authorities.
Choose your case studies carefully – I had 3-4 case studies and listed the work projects they covered so I could choose the most suitable ones to write up for my submission.
Set deadlines for drafts of your APC and stick to them - It's important to stick to these deadlines as it allows your mentor and yourself to go through your draft submission properly and ensure you have time to action any feedback you might receive. Give yourself a week before the submission deadline to finalise your submission to give yourself and your mentor time to make tweaks if needed.
Have a copy of the competencies to hand when writing your PCS – This is useful when reading through the PCS to ensure you are aware of where competencies have been covered and where you are lacking.
Applied Through: Experienced Practitioner (EP-APC)
Commended: Whole submission
BA Hons in Urban Studies and Planning - University of Sheffield including study abroad year at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (United States)
MPlan in Urban Studies and Planning - University of Sheffield
Since graduating from the University of Sheffield, I have predominantly held private-sector consultancy roles. I joined Gerald Eve’s Planning and Development Team in January 2021 and am involved in a diverse range of residential and commercial projects throughout central and greater London.
I would recommend the Experienced Practitioner Route to anybody who meets the eligibility criteria. Revisiting planning theory a few years into my professional career has given me an invaluable opportunity to reflect on my practice and that of the wider planning profession. I would recommend leaving plenty of time to research the literature and to consider how to effectively apply your chosen theory to the context of your case study.