Principal Town Planner
Planning and Design Group

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Chris, Principal Town Planner. Planning & Design Group

00:02 Hello there, I’m Chris Jesson, I’m a principal town planner with Planning & Design Group. I work in Nottingham as a planning consultant.
00:09 My idea of what Town Planning entails is looking out at the world, the places in which we live, we work, we play, we go out and enjoy ourselves. What is good, what is bad about those places, what can we do to improve them, what can we do to change them for the better of society?
00:26 That’s the main motivation for me, as to how I got into Planning.
00:29 When I left University of Sheffield, I graduated in 2011, I started as a Graduate Planner.
00:35 I started as a Planner and I’ve worked my way up to principal, as of 2017.
00:40 My job at P&DG is more based on the site promotion side of planning.
00:45 For housing, for employment, for leisure, for recreation, all manner of different land uses.
00:51 When I was at school, I think it’s fair to say that I bloomed later in life. School was a relatively unpleasant experience.
01:01 I, when I was aged 9, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, so I’m autistic by definition. So that had a lot of additional elements to play with. Not only did I have to sort of engineer myself socially to try and get  on with people, but also obviously had to work out how to be like other people.
01:22 When I went to 6th Form, I’d already made the decision I wanted to be a Town Planner. The actual point at which that became clear to me was at the age of 12. I went on the Connexions website.
01:32 I answered the relevant questions of what I wanted to do and my personality. The 2 options that it gave me were Town Planner and tram driver. So very well matched to everything that I’d wanted to do. It was music to my ears really.
01:45 I’d studied English Literature, Geography, History and  ICT at A Level and I pursued all bar History for the A2 Level and applied here to the University of Sheffield as my preferred choice to do Urban Studies and Planning.
02:00 My family were fully supportive. I was the first person in my family to go to university and I have a reputation of, if I want to do something, I will try my best and work as hard as I can to carry that through. I  won’t give up and that’s what I did with Planning.
02:16 For Planning, you need all manner of skills. The emphasis is that you might well need a lot of numeracy and mathematical skills. I myself am pretty slipshod at maths but managed to have got through that. You do need attention to detail. You do need to be  quite a visual learner actually, respond to sort of what’s called the spatial environment. So you need to understand how people interact with places and spaces and have an eye for what does and doesn’t work in that. You need to have an eye for design, so what represents decent design, so that it’s legible for people to move around in.
02:51 So places don’t become dead and ghostly.
02:53 I think my work/life balance is good and I spend a lot of my spare time in what I like doing. I like to fill out that time, so I’m a motoring enthusiast.
03:03 I love going visiting places, stately homes. I like going to travel in this country and abroad and I make sure that I enjoy that.
03:13 I’ve always said I want to remain in Planning consultancy.
03:17 I’ve indicated before that, to my employers, that I would like to keep training and learning on the job and in 5 years’ time, I would obviously like to see myself in a sort of advanced position from where I am now. I’m incredibly proud to be a principal Planner. I’m only aged 28 and I’m really pleased with that.
03:57 I’ve got into something that I wanted to enjoy, I knew I would enjoy but there are a lot of barriers in life that sometimes get in your way and I’ve managed to get through those. It’s taken a long time, but I think I’ve made it.


“I think it’s fair to say that I bloomed later in life. School was a relatively unpleasant experience.” Chris was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 9. He decided to be a town planner after a completing a careers questionnaire.

More information about Town planning officers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

70%  male 
30%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Town planning officers direct or undertake the planning of the layout and the co-ordination of plans for the development of urban and rural areas.
Entrants usually possess either an accredited degree or postgraduate qualification and must have completed at least two years’ work experience in town planning before gaining professional status.
  • Analyses information to establish the nature, extent, growth rate and likely development requirements of the area;
  • Consults statutory bodies and other interested parties to ensure that local interests are catered for and to evaluate competing development proposals;
  • Drafts and presents graphic and narrative plans affecting the use of public and private land, housing and transport facilities;
  • Examines and evaluates development proposals submitted and recommends acceptance, modification or rejection;
  • Liaises with national and local government and other bodies to advise on urban and regional planning issues.
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