Shortlisted for the RTPI SW Young Planner of the Year 2022, finalist Jozie (Jojo) Bannister shares with us how she got into Planning, why it is such a diverse and rewarding vocation and what she likes about working at Tetra Tech Planning.
How did you get into Town Planning Jojo?
My undergraduate degree was actually in Law and as part of this we covered Environmental Law which incorporated planning and I found it really interesting. This led to me read around the subject and, ultimately, to do a master’s degree in Town Planning.
Not many Planners seem to come to the profession via Law but I do think it’s stood me in good stead when it comes to interpreting legislation and planning policy. The recent introduction of town planning apprenticeships may help to engage future planners from different educational backgrounds which will bring a broad skill set and, hopefully, an increased number of Young Planners to the profession.
How would you describe your role?
As Planners, we help shape the world we live in which is a pretty special thing to be able to say. We are a critical friend to our client and share their aspirations for each project. We work with them to identify the best strategy to take their application forward and organise the many different elements and consultants that will enable us to get the outcome they want to see.
What do you like most about being a Planner?
There are so many elements to the planning system and therefore lots of things I enjoy about my job. I have a real interest in the legal side of things due to my background but it is very varied so there are lots of specialisms that planners can get in to. I think the one thing that all my colleagues would agree on though is how rewarding it is gaining a planning consent for a client and being able to share in their celebration. It is a great feeling!
I also love the variety of people I get to work with as there are often many different stakeholders in the planning process from clients, colleagues, local councils, residents and various consultants. You definitely need to be a people person to be a Planner!
What type of projects do you work on?
I get to work on projects across multiple sectors for a range of clients and that’s what keeps things interesting. My current projects range from Class Q barn conversions, solar installations and Certificates of Lawfulness all the way up to large housing allocations and student accommodation schemes which I take more of a supporting role on. My role really is very varied and that’s why I love what I do.
What is on the horizon for the Planning industry?
There are lots of external factors that influence the Planning industry which means, one way or another, something is always changing somewhere and we need to be on our toes.
Improving the natural environment through the planning system is a key focus meaning biodiversity net gain, nutrient neutrality and other environmental factors are becoming increasingly important in many of our projects. I, like everyone else, am desperately keen for the nutrient neutrality issue to be resolved and we’re all working really hard to find and agree a feasible solution.
What do you enjoy about working at Tetra Tech Planning?
The people at Tetra Tech are great, not just the planning team which is a really close-knit community in itself, but all of the experts we get to work with across the other disciplines who contribute greatly to our projects.
I also love the company’s approach to hybrid working. It is truly flexible in every sense of the word and means I can easily make time for hobbies, sports and family time in a way that suits me.
Congratulations on the award nomination – how do you feel about being shortlisted for the RTPI SW Young Planner of the Year 2022?
I’m really proud to have been nominated as it is a massive achievement, and I am grateful for the publicity that awards like this give the profession as we need more Young Planners to enter the profession. I would highly recommend it!