Interview with London Associate, Jamie Wallace

28th April 2020

Get to know our latest London recruit, Jamie Wallace.

How long have you been a planner and why did you choose the profession?

My first role as a student planner was back in March 2007, where I completed a year’s placement as part of my Certificate in Planning Practice, before returning to University to complete my postgraduate degree. I now have just over 10 years of experience working as a consultant across a vast range of projects.

As my father is a planner, I have always had an interest in the profession, specifically the input into place making through the regeneration of redundant sites. At school we had an aptitude test which projected which profession you would be best suited to. This cemented my decision to become a planner from an early age!

Tell me about your planning background…

Following the successful completion of my post graduate degree in Town Planning from Newcastle University, all of my subsequent experience has been within the private consultancy world. This has provided me with a keen insight into the commercial considerations surrounding development.

I have been fortunate enough to work for a number of major consultancies, including RPS, DP9 and Barton Willmore, which has given me the opportunity to work within various aspects of land use planning across the country, representing a wide range of clients and their interests. This has contributed to my multifaceted knowledge of the industry as well as my interest in all aspects of planning, no matter how big or small. I have found that the grey areas of planning often are the most interesting!

You have recently started working for Bell Cornwell, what have you enjoyed about the company so far?

Having started with Bell Cornwell on the 2nd March, I had just over two weeks to get to know everyone before the social distancing measures were introduced in response to Covid-19. In that short time, I got a strong sense of the passion that my colleagues have both for the industry but also for their clients. Everyone across all the offices have been extremely welcoming and this personable approach is one that clearly transcends into the service given to clients. This less ‘corporate’ approach is one that I have enjoyed and one our clients appreciate also.

You deal with many clients on a wide array of projects, how do you ensure that each client receives a personalised service?

It is fundamental to get a true and clear understanding of both your client’s aspirations for the project and your ability to help realise this. Once this is established you can start to tailor and focus your expertise in a way which best fits your individual client’s needs. I am consultant who likes to use the phone and have a conversation; I always encourage my clients to get in touch if they need me. I firmly believe it’s important to understand the standpoint of your client and their investment into projects, both from a personal and professional perspective.

Why do you think hiring a planner helps with a project?

I am of course somewhat biased, but having a town planner on board in development projects can be invaluable. The range of knowledge and expertise a planner brings is vast, but for me it is a clear understanding of the “big” picture and the ability to handle the variety of stakeholders including statutory and non-statutory consultees. An in-depth knowledge on how everything fits together to reach a desired outcome is essential in navigating the sometimes-complex planning system. Establishing a clear strategy from the outset of projects saves both time and money for clients.

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