In the first 2019 edition of Northern Insight Helen Heward, Associate at Planning House is introduced, with her substantial public sector experience and passion for people and places we’re excited to have her onboard. In the article Helen introduces herself.
As a chartered town planner with over 12 years experience in the public sector across planning policy, development management and enforcement, I’m leaving my comfort zone in the Local Authority to start a new adventure in the private sector.
It’s a really exciting opportunity to use my unique practical skills to effectively navigate the planning process from a Local Authority perspective to provide clients with an insightful and reliable service in the private sector.
As a Senior Planning Officer, I have dealt with a wide variety of planning applications, predominantly major applications for residential, commercial, industrial and renewable energy developments. In previous articles Planning House, has described the move from Local Authority to the private sector as “gamekeeper turned poacher” and honestly I can’t think of a better analogy.
For me, planning is all about relationships. I initially decided on a career in town planning as I was interested in the relationship between human activity and the natural environment. I soon learned that effective town planning is underpinned by collaboration and importantly communication between stakeholders in the whole of the planning process. In my experience the better the relationship between stakeholders the smoother the planning process runs!
The ethos behind Planning House is to provide a personal, flexible service that meets the needs of its clients; this suits my approach down to the ground. I am definitely a ‘people person’, I love a challenge and have always thrived under pressure. I am an advocate for talking about a problem to resolve it and definitely believe that communication is key.
In my experience I have found that meaningful engagement can resolve the seemingly unresolvable. As planners we are often mediators between stakeholders, when something is talked about face to face or explained properly a solution can usually be found.
I am of the opinion ‘why have countless emails back and forth when a discussion would be better?’, this has always worked for me and is definitely an approach I intend to maintain. So when, following my return to work from maternity leave, I was offered an opportunity to work for Planning House, a company which has been built on service to clients I jumped at the chance.
Planning House is also supportive of another of my passions which is promoting gender equality. My time away from the office, during maternity leave, highlighted to me that whilst women may be represented in the industry there is a wealth of women who take time away from their career for family. This inevitably has an impact upon career progression.Fortunately, the flexible approach of employment with Planning House accommodates my personal circumstances whilst supporting my career progression. Nationally the network that champions for gender equality in the planning industry is ‘Women in Planning’. The network is women-led however is not exclusively for women. There are branches across the UK and I am currently in the process of launching the North East network. Excitingly the upcoming launch event, in early 2019 will be supported by Planning House!
Having children has made me realise that being a working mother is tough and the pressure is immense. Trying to fit that into office hours is practically impossible. However, my new role at Planning House has offered ‘a new way of working’ giving me the flexibility to spend time with my young family whilst continuing to work in a profession I am passionate about why do you have to choose! I am sure that this flexibility will benefit my family and future clients too.
I’m really excited to get started. If you have any planning matters you would like to discuss, from January 2019 I will be joining the Planning House team and I look forward to hearing from you.
Helen’s contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org or 07834 775732