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Town Planning and the Public's Voice

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London’s Shard, Birmingham’s Bull Ring Shopping Centre, Gateshead’s Angel of the North and countless construction projects across the UK have all been subject to some of the same planning processes that DIO’s Town and Country Planners are involved in every day.

The Shard from Tower Bridge, London
The Shard From Tower Bridge, London (Photograph by Neil Howard, aka neilalderney123, via Flickr Creative Commons -

We’re all interested in the buildings around us, how they might impact on our living environment and the potential benefits that they could provide for us as residents and users of those facilities.

This could, for example, be the proposed re-development of new high street, a play area or an industrial recycling plant in areas where we live, work or regularly travel to. Planning regulations and processes allow local residents and interested parties the opportunity to comment on these plans and have their say on large and smaller scale development proposals.

Town Planning

I have always had an interest in Town Planning and in my spare time I am the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Honorary Secretary for the South East. I am part of the Activities Committee which arranges seminars for Town Planners across the South East, I am also active on the International Committee which works to promote town planning matters across the world.

I have been employed in Town Planning for over 25 years and for the past six I’ve been at DIO, working on several planning applications. My focus has been making sure that the public are aware of the plans and know how to have their views heard. I was responsible for obtaining planning permission for the Defence Technical Training College in Lyneham.

This took a couple of years to prepare and take through all the phases, with construction now beginning. When completed, the College will consolidate a number of MOD bases onto one site to provide a Tri-Service training hub. It’s always gratifying to see your work resulting in something tangible. Knowing that I was involved in the provision of the college definitely brings me a great sense of job satisfaction.

Sod turning ceremony to mark the start of construction at the Defence Technical Training College, MOD Lyneham. (Crown Copyright)
Sod turning ceremony to mark the start of construction at the Defence Technical Training College, MOD Lyneham. (Crown Copyright)

Currently I am involved with the Salisbury Plain Master Plan, which looks to provide living accommodation, work and training spaces for more than 7,000 Army service personnel and their families. These soldiers will be returning to the Wiltshire area from Germany between now and 2019. The public consultation for the Defence Technical Training College, which I led, has been hailed as an example of industry good practice; I have therefore approached delivering the Salisbury Plain Master Plan in a similar way.

Army Basing Plan

I enjoy responding to the challenges posed in identifying viable sites for up to 1,400 new Service Families Accommodation houses. It has to be done in discussion with the local planning authority Wiltshire Council and statutory organisations and within a short timescale. This work follows just one of the many Assessment Studies being undertaken across the UK to support the announced Army Basing Plan. These are beginning to be reported on now. I’ll then be focussing on the strategy for delivering planning permissions for the options selected.

A couple return to married quarters at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain (Sgt Ian Forsythe, Crown Copyright)
A couple return to married quarters at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain (Sgt Ian Forsythe, Crown Copyright)

Last year I was awarded a grant to travel to the USA, to find out what the MOD can learn from the US military's own Army Basing programme. This Travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust will allow me access to the USA's Base Realignments and Closure programme. I am looking forward to what I hope will be a valuable experience and it should be an excellent opportunity to bring back knowledge and best practice for the benefit of my work with DIO.

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