Amy Brookes

Planning, St Edmuundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council

I graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Geography and Urban and Regional Planning. I will be returning to Birmingham in September to undertake a MSc in urban planning.

As the planning intern I was primarily based in the development management team at West Suffolk House. I have enjoyed working here for the past 12 weeks within a fantastic team who have involved me in different projects and opportunities. I have shadowed and helped different members within my team as well as having the responsibility for my own planning project.

I have enjoyed shadowing pre-app meetings, site visits and an appeal hearing alongside helping to write consultation comments, planning reports and meeting notes. It has been really interesting to see the diverse range of planning applications from household extensions to phasings’ of large residential sites. I was also given the opportunity to broaden my awareness of the planning system as a whole, spending time in the building control and planning technician teams.

Alongside this I have mainly been involved with reviewing the conditions manual. This task followed the significant changes in national legislation regarding the use of conditions which comes into power in October 2018. Having no knowledge of conditions, I was given a brief by my manager and learnt their purposes and importance in determining applications. From this, I have had an active role alongside the principal planners helping to rewrite a new manual. I have enjoyed meeting with other departments such as the conservation, environment and housing officers, to gain their expertise on different chapters. I am hoping that the new manual will be well updated and useful for the planners in the future.

Outside of my department I have been involved in the intern group project working very closely with the four other interns. Our brief required a community event or project which tackled loneliness. Within a 9-week deadline we organised an event at the Athenaeum called ‘The Togetherness Fayre’. We opened the fayre to the public and hosted over 30 businesses and charities. They signposted members of the public to different services and volunteering opportunities they could sign up to. In the lead up to the event we distributed over 800 leaflets and advertised the event in the local papers and social media. Following the event all 30 businesses and charities said they had enjoyed the event and would come back again.

The past 12 weeks has offered me invaluable experience within a planning department and more widely, a local council. My department have been so helpful, supportive and friendly making me feel like a member of the team. I have learnt so much and this internship has made me even more excited about my future as a planner.