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New Recruits Bolster Planning Team

12 November 2008

The planning team has announced three new appointments.

The move will further strengthen Capita Symonds’ LDF and Planning Policy Advice offerings which are designed to support the development of local authority planning policy teams as they adapt to the challenges of the new planning system following the publication of the new PPS12 on Local Spatial Planning.

Richard Blyth (left) has joined the team as Associate Director responsible for leading the Planning Policy team. He joins the company from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) where he was policy lead for Local Development Frameworks (LDF).

During his time with the DCLG Richard played a central part in driving forward the national programme for the delivery of development plan documents in partnership with the Planning Advisory Service and Government Offices for the Regions.

Richard was also responsible for the new PPS12 dealing with Local Spatial Planning which set out the role for LDFs within wider local government. This groundbreaking review was widely welcomed across the industry as it marked a significant shift away from an emphasis on detailed processes towards a focus on outcomes - making plans justifiable and deliverable.

As LDF lead, Richard also liaised with policy leads on related fields, making an input into housing supply policy, planning gain supplement, community infrastructure levy and the introduction of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, as well as assisting the Minister in Committee on the Planning Reform Bill 2008.

Paul Nichols, Capita Symonds’ Director Planning said: “Richard is a successful leader of planning teams and has gained valuable insight into the development of new planning policy at Central Government level. Richard’s appointment is crucial as it will enable our rapidly expanding planning team to widen its offering even further, particularly with regards to the vital area of spatial planning.”

Richard is a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI) and holds a BA in Geography from Cambridge University and a Master in Civic Design from the University of Liverpool.

Meanwhile Claire Megginson (right) has joined the team as Principal Town Planning Consultant.

Claire joins the company from the Government Office for the North East where she was responsible for a broad range of planning work including the regional spatial strategy, local development frameworks and planning casework on large applications.

She has extensive experience of town planning having held various positions within County, District and Unitary local authorities throughout North East England and within the RSS and Planning Teams at the Government Office for the North East.

Claire’s experience has focussed on planning policy development and scrutiny.  She played a key role on behalf of Government Office for the North East in the Regional Spatial Strategy consultation processes and in providing evidence at the public examination on behalf of the government.

She has built up strong relationships with local authorities throughout the North East region, providing advice on sound Local Development Framework preparation and processes and handling departure referrals and call in requests on large scale applications.

Claire is a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and holds a BA (Hons) and Diploma in Town Planning from Newcastle University.

Paul Nichols, Capita Symonds’ Director Planning said: “Claire has an in-depth appreciation of the requirements of the spatial planning agenda and the revised LDF system. She is extremely well-equipped to offer practical support to planning policy teams, with the expertise to assure the quality and soundness of their core strategies and other local development documents.”

Jonathan Harris has also joined as Planning Consultant where he will be responsible for the preparation, submission and management of various client planning applications.

Jonathan has a range of experience across both the public and private sector, including the handing of planning applications on residential and commercial schemes, development management, policy advice and planning appeal processes.

He joins the company from Penwith District Council in Cornwall where he was Consultant Planning Officer dealing with large schemes, complex planning applications and appeals, and Section 106 agreements. His specific project experience included dealing with a range of applications including mixed use developments, industrial sites, commercial units and residential proposals.

The role also included representing the Local Authority as a professional witness at a public inquiry and pre-application discussions, as well as advising on a range of larger developments within the district.

Paul Nichols, Capita Symonds’ Director Planning said: “Jonathan’s strength is his positive nature and ability to engage with developers and stakeholders to achieve positive results.”

Jonathan has a MSc Planning Practice and Research and BA (Hons) in Geography.