Our ongoing series looking at a typical day’s work in the huge variety of jobs people have in our housebuilding sector continues with Amy Atkins of Rectory Homes, in her role as assistant planner at a company which produces new homes across the Home Counties.
5:45am: I like to wake up early and get to the gym before work as I find it clears my mind for the day ahead. I particularly like to take a cycle class – it really wakes me up!
8:45am: I arrive at the office and the first thing I do is catch up on the most recent industry news, I particularly like Planning Resource and The Planner. Following that, I go through my emails to see what’s happened overnight and start planning my day ahead. From a monitoring point of view; I will keep an eye out for relevant appeal decisions, track the progress of local plans in our core area and also review emerging affordable housing and CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) policies in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
9:15am: Once I’ve been through my emails, I set out my tasks for the day and handle anything urgent. My role is varied, and most days are different, especially as every site I am dealing with is unique. I have been entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with my own sites, some more challenging than others which is a great learning experience! The members of the planning and land team are also great to work with. Supportive and very experienced, so I am learning from some great people but also they are a lot of fun, there is never a dull moment!
9:45am: The planning team meets to discuss each site and give each other an update on their progress, any changes, and anything that needs to be actioned. We work on a number of sites at any one time – at the moment I’m working on eight – so there’s a lot to keep on top of, and everything is at different stages.
11:00am: Following the meeting, I liaise with land managers as things may crop up that need discussing – for example, deadlines for the submission of planning applications – so I need to keep on top of timings from an early stage. I tend to have a lot of contact with the land team; discussing the planning prospects of new sites, the contract details of existing sites or the financial implications of potential further works/improvements to schemes which are required for the planning application to be policy compliant.
11:45am: I appoint, coordinate and manage all of the project consultants for the sites I am dealing with and proactively liaise with stakeholders and planning officers at pre-application and post submission stage. During my day, I will review these supporting technical documents and liaise with Chris, our technical manager.
12:30pm: For lunch, I tend to go with a colleague to the local supermarket and grab a sandwich to eat back at the office. At any possible moment I will practice my golf swing around the office – without my clubs obviously – and lunchtime provides the perfect opportunity!
1:15pm: I’ll be working on a number of sites at a time, often on a new one, so I’ll contact consultants – for example, ecology or archaeology consultants – to request fee proposals and discuss site specific requirements. I’ll also monitor local councils in which we have developments to check for updates on appeal decisions and local plans.
2:45pm: At initial stages of a development, the in-house design team, land managers and myself will work closely together to make sure the schemes are policy compliant, adhere with the contract details and costs that the land team have agreed, and also work from a design point of view.
3:30pm: Some days I will also attend various meetings; internal pre-exchange meetings, discussions with Parish Councils or Local Authorities, Planning Committees or attendance at meetings with landowners with the land managers to provide the planning input. I will always attend these meetings with someone from the land team, so we go to meet with a Parish Council to keep them updated and also take any concerns on board and let them know we’re listening to their feedback and requirements.
5:00pm: From a monitoring point of view, I will review forthcoming S106 payments and their relevant triggers to ensure that they are paid to either the District or County Council on time. I will also keep track of pre-commencement and pre-occupation conditions for the sites I am dealing with and liaise with the managing director on these details.
5:30pm: I leave the office for a public exhibition with a planning manager and member of the land team – after setting up, we spend a couple of hours answering questions from local residents.
7:30pm: At home, I relax in front of the television and recharge for the following day.