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Most asked: Jess Riches, Planning Officer

Most asked: Jess Riches, Planning Officer

September 2, 2020

Can you tell us a little about what you do?

My role as a Planning Officer is largely made up of dealing with planning applications and determining whether they are acceptable or not.

There’s so much to consider when assessing an application, and each and every case is different.

To name just a few considerations in our decision, we need to see whether the proposal is sustainable, well designed with the landscape in mind, creates benefits to ecosystem services, and respects the dark night skies.

It is a planners responsibility to weigh up the constraints on the site and see if it is acceptable or not.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me is based largely in the office but I do get to go out into the National Park regularly to visit sites where development is proposed.

My day is very varied, from smaller applications for consents to prune trees in a conservation area, to larger householder extension applications.

I deal with a huge range of people who want to know more about the applications in their area and what it means for them so they can get involved and have their say.

Talking with agents, neighbours, parishes are all frequent parts of the job!

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is combining my passion for the landscape and its environment with my love of helping people.

My undergraduate degree was in Conservation Biology, and I’ve always loved supporting community aims, so I wanted to find something that allowed me to protect and enhance my environment, whilst still having focus on the people in it.

What do you think helped you land this role?

I think I secured this position due to the experience I had in customer facing roles, and my background in conservation.

Growing up I worked in supermarkets and restaurants which gave me so many skills that I didn’t realise were so essential to many career paths.

As a planner, you have to consider all stakeholders and manage all of their different views, so talking to people is a must!

Dealing with conflicts between stakeholders and communicating effectively with each person/group is a really key skill as a planner.