A huge congratulations and thank you to our Partner, Nick Cobbold who has been with Bell Cornwell LLP for 15 years. We asked Nick to reflect on his career thus far and what his aspirations are for his Hampshire team, Bell Cornwell and the planning system as a whole…
How does it feel to be celebrating your 15th work anniversary?
I wonder where the time has gone. I joined as a senior planner, only 4 years into my professional career. Here I am as a Partner, 15 years later and one of the longest serving members of the practice. Time has flown, there have been ups and downs but the overwhelming view is one of enjoyment and pride.
What is key to sustaining a fulfilling and lasting career in town planning?
Knowledge, experience and instinct.
How significantly has Bell Cornwell changed since you started in 2007?
The ethos of the company has remained despite the change at the top with the new set of Partners yet, in many respects, the company has become more professional. It has evolved from a company which was principally Hook based, in a converted bungalow, to a company with 5 offices across the south of England. Staff numbers have increased with greater presence and greater local knowledge in each office.
How significantly has the planning system changed over the past 15 years?
When you think about it in the context of day to day work, it hasn’t changed very much at all. Policies change, national guidance changes but ultimately I am not convinced that modern policies and guidance is all that different to their predecessors back 15 years ago.
Any key observations for the state of planning in the South East at the moment and what would you like to see change?
There is clearly a problem in attracting good planners to the area. It may be indicative of the profession as a whole, but it seems especially problematic locally. The profession must be made more attractive to the younger generation and, controversial as it may sound, the planning system needs to detach itself from politics and stop undermining the trained professional for political gains.
Any long term predictions for the planning system?
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I have long since stopped trying to predict what will happen in the future. As Planning becomes ever more politically driven, ideas, suggested policies and soundbites become more and more detached from reality and most fade away to nothing. Best to live in the present and make sure that we are up to date on the changes that actually do happen.
Where do you hope to see Bell Cornwell in 15 years’ time?
I hope to see the growth continue both in terms of other offices and in Hook, which is the office I head up and the original hub of the business. A strong Hook office and foundation for Bell Cornwell is my priority for the foreseeable future, ensuring we go from strength to strength.
Since becoming the leader of the Hook office you have lovingly been given the nickname ‘Captain Hook’, what are your aspirations for your planning ‘crew’?
It is a nickname that I accrued when I missed the 35 year party due to COVID and I have yet to work out whether it is a given in a positive or negative context! I will go with the former. Either way, I have a good team here in Hook, probably the strongest team of experienced planners that we have ever had. The team includes 3 new members who have joined in the last 8 months and the plan is to keep helping them in the way Bell Cornwell work and the types of projects which we get involved in. I am excited by the team I have and look forward to our existing clients getting to know them and building the business further with new contacts.