With so many disciplines needed in the UK housebuilding industry, and so many routes to using them, every career story is unique and here Annabel Prentice tells us what brought her to her current job and how rewarding she finds it.
Can you tell us about your current role and how you got to where you are today?
I currently work as a land and planning manager for Anthology, a London property developer which acquires and develops sites exclusively in Zones 2-5. My role involves identifying and acquiring new sites as well as working with the team to obtain detailed planning permission.
The path I took, which has led me to the role I have today, started with studying architecture at the University of Nottingham, followed by a master’s in real estate at the University of Reading. After graduating from Reading, I worked for St William Homes, part of the Berkeley Group and attained my Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accreditation in planning and development.
What inspired you?
Architecture and design is what first inspired me to consider a role in land and planning. I had completed a couple of work experience positions with architecture practices but found the development side more interesting due to the variety of work. A role in land and planning allowed me to combine the skills I had learnt throughout my education and provided a constant learning stream, making the role an interesting career path.
What sort of new homes projects have you worked on to date, and what was it about them that you most enjoyed?
I have worked on residentially led, mixed-use developments, which have varied in size from 25 homes to 750 homes both within London and outside the M25. Each project has its own opportunities and challenges. Overcoming the constraints on site and the problem-solving aspect of each project is what I find most interesting and enjoyable.
At Anthology, I have aided the acquisition, and am assisting with the planning application of a site located in Elephant and Castle. I am also working on acquisition of future sites in line with the business growth plans.
How does your role relate to the wider development team? What other roles do you liaise with and work with closely?
Throughout the early stages of the development process, I carry out due diligence on a site. This includes working with the architects to establish a feasibility layout, as well as liaising with the technical team, planning consultants and a cost consultant to establish the constraints and costings of bringing the site forward. As the design evolves, specialist consultants will be brought in to advise on their respective areas.
What challenges does your role entail, and what gives you the most satisfaction to overcome?
One of the challenges I face is balancing planning policy and the desire of the local community with the viability of bringing a development forward. Negotiating with the different parties to find a solution is a challenge but very rewarding once planning permission has been granted and I see the development built and enjoyed by others.
Are there specific professional and personal skills that would make someone especially suited to a career in land and planning?
As a land and planning manager you work very closing with a team of specialists, such as the architect, cost consultant and planner. It is therefore essential to have good people skills and be able to communicate ideas and briefs clearly, as well as co-ordinate a team and listen to advice being given.
The role is very varied in the type of work you will carry out and as you work through various projects you will learn new skills that you can bring forward on future projects.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering land and planning as a career path?
You need to be passionate and excited about the built environment and creating better spaces for communities to enjoy and use. If this is your true passion and you enjoy problem solving, then you will really enjoy a career in land and planning. It is an exciting environment to work in and each day is different, which means knowledge will always be acquired.