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Meet the National Park planner….Philippa Smyth

Meet the National Park planner….Philippa Smyth

December 19, 2023

We catch up with Philippa Smyth, Principal Development Management Officer.

Three words that sum up your job in planning?

Consideration, negotiation and balance.

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

I am one of the Principal Development Management Officers in the DM Team. I am responsible for processing some of the more complex planning applications within the National Park. I also hope to be able to support other officers within the team, once I have learnt the SDNPA ropes and have stopped asking so many newbie questions!

What appealed to you about working in planning?

I have always had a bit of a geeky fascination with maps and plans, so I think it started there. I have a huge OS map in my kitchen for planning runs and adventures.  I also think our natural and built environments are so important to how we live, work and play and it’s exciting to be part of the development and management of these areas.

Can you describe your typical day?

No one day is ever the same in planning! But a day might involve site visits around the Park to make assessments of planning applications on the ground, writing reports and negotiating improvements with applicants and agents. Oh, and many cups of tea!

Best thing about working in planning for a National Park?

It’s exciting to play a role in protecting the Park and allowing it to evolve in the most appropriate way. I love getting out and about and seeing the varying landscapes, businesses and communities.

What do you love about the South Downs National Park?

I grew up in the New Forest so the great outdoors has always been important thing for me. But the South Downs – what an incredible place! Varied landscapes, views for days and lots of destinations for adventures! I have spent a lot of time walking and running in the National Park and it’s great that I can spend more time here and play a little part in its future. I have covered most of the South Downs Way in races or in supporting friends who have taken on the whole lot in one day, but hope to join up any bits that I have missed.

Currently reading/watching?

I have recently started watching ‘Friends’ from the beginning. I’m not sure all of the jokes would be considered appropriate these days!

Dream holiday destination and why?

I am a bit of a homebird but anywhere with big hills, stunning scenery and a chance to get out and about in the landscape.

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

My mum’s macaroni cheese. Name me a better dish, I’ll wait!

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

A long walk or run with friends, in beautiful countryside followed by a pint and a big bowl of chips!