Welcome to 2020 and here’s hoping you had a restful festive break. Before we launch on into the New Year, we’ve been spending some time reflecting on 2019 and taking stock of where we’re at – both as Planners and people – where we fit within the grander scheme of the development industry and how we go about our day-to-day business. At the risk of sounding overly political, we’ve come up with our own manifesto, our PV pledges for the year ahead, some professional, some personal and some probably unrealistic. It’s a chance to re-frame what we do – have a read and let us know your thoughts. 

So in 2020, and in no particular order, we’re resolved to: 

  1. Work with more great clients – on high quality, interesting and challenging jobs.
  2. Deliver on Service – whatever the scale of your project, however complex or basic, we will always endeavour to provide you with a timely, informed and professional service. With a smile!
  3. Highlight ‘Value’ – we want people to be more aware of the importance of Planning within a project. We respect our clients and colleagues and value it in return.
  4. Promote Kindness – as per the formidable Mary Portas, being kind is a win-win, it generates respect from all areas and drives a successful business. Planning can be a very confrontational game and it helps to work with kind people. We always want to be the consultant that a client wants to appoint, a colleague wants to recommend and a case officer wants to call back.
  5. Shout about Sustainability – climate change is an increasingly important part of our industry and our daily lives. Whilst we strive to operate as lightly as possible – using public transport, limiting travel to meetings – we can always do better. Oh, and we need to keep banging the desk for emissions reductions and renewables in all of our projects – these are now fundamental, not a design sop.
  6. Be more curious – we have to keep learning, be it joining webinars, listening to speakers, visiting other cities, enjoying architecture, reading more. It’s critical that we step out of our Planning comfort zone to give us a perspective and appreciation of the industry within the wider world. We’ve signed up to the UWE Distinguished speakers this year, and will be on the lookout for other interesting forums. Let us know if there are any that you would recommend.
  7. Give back – we’re continuing to support Bristol-based charity One25 in 2020 and are proud to be part of their family. But it’s not just about fundraising, in 2019 we sat on Bristol City’s Conservation Advisory Panel and guest lectured with UWE, and we’re determined to still contribute in this way, and to say yes to new skill-sharing opportunities.
  8. Invest in others – we’ve learned to surround ourselves with the best people we can, who will support us and help our business grow. We’re indebted to our fantastic crew – Faye, Lucy and Tom, our outstanding freelancers, Ellie our social media diamond, Carys and Christian our graphics people, Barbara our bookkeeper, Catrin our business coach, Graham our planning mentor, Jules our lawyer and Paul and Aiden our accountants. We’re always looking for people who we want to work with and who want to work with us.
  9. Support women in Planning – as a two-woman business how can we not look out for our sisters in the industry? We’re keen to sign up for some informal mentoring, as well as nurturing our own networks and joining forces with the more established bodies of Women in Planning, Women in Property and Constructing Excellence.
  10. Question our conscience – we always need to question whether or not we are doing things for the right reasons. It’s ok to say no where we don’t feel like a client or project is a good fit for us. It’s important to care about people and to care about doing a good job. It’s also vital to be honest – about outcomes, meeting timescales and sometimes the need to increase fees.
  11. Collaborative working – not rocket science and not always easy, but we inevitably achieve more together, whatever the context. We’re determined to keep working with, learning from and respecting our clients, colleagues and case officers.  
  12. Uphold our case officers – these are the most important members of the teams that we work with. Without them, we won’t secure positive decisions, and without these, you can’t move forward on your sites. Fostering working relationships with our case officers has got to be an ongoing mission. We won’t always achieve what we want as Planning is ultimately about subjective decision making. But kind, respectful, working relationships help in the long run. 
  13. Ask for help – multi-talented we are not and we don’t have all the answers. We have a Planning Mentor and Business Coach who are integral to our team, and a growing tribe of Planning Ventures freelancers who we could not do without. We’ll be calling on their support as ever in 2020.
  14. Listen more – take the time to understand others better, let others lead and we can follow.
  15. Acknowledge our mistakes – own them and learn from them – the size of our Christmas cards is a starter 😉
  16. Champion communication – we try hard to engage with our clients (old and new) and maintain professional relationships and friendships, channelled through our bi-monthly newsletter and blog and our various social events throughout the year. We particularly love catching up with people at our annual end of Summer Drinks party. We could do better though – so watch this space for more about our success stories, more hints and tips, more tweets, more AIPs and look out for our upcoming Instagram launch.
  17. Pursue our passions and side projects – fascinating as it is, we both need an escape from Planning to do other stuff. Jules loves heritage and design and has grand designs for a new house in Bath, whilst Lyn is gradually walking her way around the South-West coastal path. We’re also planning some art-related fun this year. Distractions are important – they help us keep perspective – we’ll definitely be finding time for these again
  18. Prioritise exercise and cherish quiet time – daily life is busy and we can’t run a successful business without feeling fit and getting decent headspace. Our May Challenge for One25 was a joyous team event (we ran/kayaked/hiked/cycled/swam over 125 miles each, just in case you’d forgotten) and a reminder of the benefits of getting away from our desks. We’re keen for a new challenge in 2020 and Jules is talking about triathlons, although we definitely won’t be kayaking again.
  19. Aspire for more Adventures in Planning – be it securing consent for a multi-million-pound office project or advising on replacement windows for a listed building. Be it reading up on the latest changes in legislation, or muddling our way through Permitted Development rights. Be it kayaking up the Avon (actually never again) or presenting at a charity business seminar. We’re up for it, bring it on.
  20. Have fun – life is too short to be miserable.

Well, that’s us sorted for 2020. What will you be up to?