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Getting to know our planners: 10 questions with Naomi

Getting to know our planners: 10 questions with Naomi

August 2, 2021

We catch up with Naomi Langford, a Major Projects Officer for the National Park.


Three words that sum up your job in planning?

Fascinating, diverse, challenging.


Okay, so what’s your role at the National Park?

The main part of my role is to consider and make recommendations on planning proposals for large and complex projects across the whole National Park area. I get involved in projects from the earliest stage of pre-application discussions, through all the relevant permission stages to on-site delivery and beyond. A lot of my role is about project management, working closely and collaboratively with a broad range of specialist advisers and engaging with the community. I always have a range of projects on my desk, all of which are at different stages with different pressures. With another hat on, I monitor and advise on viability appraisals for planning applications which we scrutinise carefully with the assistance of external specialist consultants. From time to time I also get involved in developing policy, including Technical Advice Notes, and assist my colleagues with work relating to Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects that are located either within or may impact upon the National Park.


What appealed to you about working in planning?

The site visits are a big positive of the job. When I started in planning I loved visiting homes and gardens and hearing from the applicants about what they wanted to create for their home. I am a naturally sociable person. Now I can visit substantial historic properties, spectacular landscapes and varied commercial sites. There are a lot of “wows” in the National Park. It is a privilege and a great responsibility to be involved in the present and future of the National Park and its people. I am definitely proud of being a planner.

A “wow” shot of Stedham Common in late summer – a beautiful heathland in the South Downs National Park


Can you describe your typical day?

The majority of the day involves a computer, responding to emails, reviewing plans and documents and writing reports. I like connecting to colleagues and others on the phone or in person to chat through schemes, debate what works and what could be improved. I look forward to getting back to the informal discussions in the office environment, as we learn so much from each other! I’m new to the SDNPA having joined in February 2021, so as we get back to normal I’m looking forward to spending more time with colleagues and sharing some of my home-baked cakes and home-grown strawberries!


Best thing about working in planning for a National Park?

Taking a proactive role in delivering high-quality and sustainable development. This is driven by the National Park designation, our purposes and our bold and forward-thinking Local Plan and Partnership Management Plan. Across the organisation everyone is so friendly and I felt welcome straight away.


What do you love about the South Downs National Park?

The variety. It has a character as a whole but each place and each part of a place can be so different. I love the unexpected, and the contrast. Emerging from a sunken lane into an expansive landscape takes my breath away.


Currently reading/watching?

Line of Duty, Unforgotten and Time have all been great recently. The series Small Axe on the BBC was really thought-provoking. When I want something lighter and need some inspiration for my own hobbies, I delve into the Great British Bake Off and Sewing Bee.


If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I have a weakness for crisps.


Who inspires you?

In the planning world I’m always impressed with the young planning barristers (often a similar age to me) that I get the pleasure of working with on appeals or meeting in training courses. Their knowledge and understanding is remarkable and I relate to their eye for detail.


Describe your perfect day (when not working, of course!)

Sailing. I’d be out on the water in a dinghy in a good breeze, whizzing about as fast as I could with the sun on my head and the sea spray in my face.