Planning Ahead: The Next Generation


This blog was written for The Planner magazine by our Head of Architecture, Planning and Design, Freddie Bell. Follow this link to read from The Planner website 

One of the things I tell most of the Planners I meet is that if I had known about planning when at school, I would have studied it at university. And I doubt I'm alone in this.

When we consider encouraging inclusivity and diversity in planning, we rightly highlight doing more to ensure women, LGBTQ and people from minority backgrounds are better supported in the industry. But from my angle, we miss a trick by not fully engaging with the next generation in planning.

Unlike recruitment, you need a degree, often a Master's, in order to start in planning. Despite this, town planning is simply not a career path being talked about at school level. The majority of younger planners I network with often studied geography initially at undergraduate level and it's here they discovered a passion for planning. Though it's fantastic to hear that many take this route, it's not ideal for those like myself who did a different bachelors and remained none the wiser to the existence of town planning until beginning my career elsewhere. So how can we address this problem?

The obvious change that must happen is making the industry known to children when they're still at school. Schools are often made up of a wide variety of people from different races, different backgrounds and different beliefs – all in one room and equal to one another. By reaching out at this level we not only address the need to get the planning industry better understood, but we will naturally reach out to a wide cross-section of society.

The second positive move we can make is better tying in planning with games and virtual reality. Games like Sim: City and Run That Town are fantastic tools in getting younger minds to consider the built environment and the impact we can make on it. The augmented reality in Pokemon Go is an easily accessible way for people to actually view the architecture, buildings and city directly around them. At the national level, the planning community needs to reinforce this with children by better helping them understand how they can turn their passion into a career. From my experience we're an engaging industry, it will then be on us to provide time and resources to reach out the next generation.

There truly is no better time to make changes to this end than right now. The housing crisis is at the forefront of discussion in politics at both the national and local level. The planning industry can do more to rise to this challenge; engaging with the next generation will not only aid with this but will also help ensure we have a diverse makeup of the industry to cater for the whole population.


FreddieI now head up the Planning & Architecture team after joining mid-2016. My background has always been in recruitment, learning my craft while working across a range of different sectors including FMCG Marketing and Employability & Skills. I have expertise in recruiting across the UK as well as internationally which is great fun as I love meeting a wide variety of different people. I work with some of the best companies and people in the industry – what more could I want? Well, a sausage dog – I don't have one...yet


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London Wildlife Trust.

We are proud partners of The London Wildlife Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting the wildlife and wild spaces of London by driving environmental projects throughout the city. Our team often get involved at ground level in Wild Workdays by helping to maintain and restore treasured spaces and land… we love to get our hands dirty! We also run multiple interactive workshops, providing their conservation trainees with invaluable career advice and insights into the environmental sector to prepare them for employment. Most recently, we worked with young people taking part in their Keeping it Wild programme, which engages young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in nature conservation.

Royal Town Planning Institute.

The RTPI represents planning professionals in the UK and Ireland and aims to encourage the development of vibrant and prosperous places and communities. Our Senior Consultant Freddie enthusiastically attends the annual Planning Convention, and we host several events throughout the year to show our support, including drinks networking and a literal pub quiz. We also keep in close contact with our friends down under, at the Planning Institute Australia and New Zealand Planning Institute. In addition, we sponsor the London Planning Summit, an event designed to address the biggest challenges facing the industry. This is our opportunity to stay on top of the latest changes in town planning by meeting with other key professionals in the sector, while celebrating our achievements.

Land Securities Group Plc.

One of our clients, LandSec, are the clever people behind Girls Can Do It Too, an initiative designed to encourage girls to consider a career in construction. Currently, only 11% of the construction workforce are female, and LandSec are attempting to increase this number by providing education and engagement projects and workshops for girls aged 11-13. Featuring workshops on demolition and tower building, as well as challenging the girls to design a planning project of their own (with a focus on budgeting and environmental considerations), LandSec have proven their dedication to addressing the need for diversity in this very male dominated industry. Ruth assists the project by sharing her fascinating insights into the industry and is even on the project judging panel!

Urban Land Institute.

In partnership with Urban Land Institute we are able to play an imperative role in creating a larger and more diverse pool of candidates within the planning & property professions. Working in schools we take part in the Urban Plan Educational workshops programme, which has now reached more than 2,500 pupils in 100 schools since its launch. Alongside more than 200 industry volunteers engaged across the country, we provide invaluable industry & careers advice to students while guiding them through their workshops and helping judge their presentations.

Carbon Footprint.

Carbon FootprintTM works to help organisations offset their CO2 through tree planting and community projects worldwide. By partnering with Carbon FootprintTM, we have planted native trees and shrubs such as Whitebeam, Hazel, Field Maple, Silver Birch, Rowan, Beech, Blackthorn, Holly and Dog Rose to create a Mattinson Forest that spreads across South East England. Carbon FootprintTM work in conjunction with the Florestal Santa Maria Project (FSM-Redd Project), designed to reduce deforestation in the Amazonian Rainforest. So, for every tree we plant in the UK we guarantee a tonne of CO₂ offset in Brazil too. Carbon FootprintTM have allowed us to not only do our bit for the environment but also commemorate moments of growth for our clients and candidates.