Welcome to 2021, never have we been so pleased to embrace a new year. Whoever would have imagined when we introduced our Planning Ventures manifesto back in January 2020, that the 12 months would have played out in such a challenging way, and been a real test of those pledges. 

As everyone, we’re desperate to move on past COVID and to press the reset button on our business and personal lives, but it’s important that we take some learnings with us, or what’s it all been for? So, in a grasp for some clarity and in very distilled form, here’s our shortlists of five reasons to celebrate 2020 and five glimmers of hope for 2021:

What went well….

We kept trading – it’s not been easy for any size of company to stay afloat, and our two-woman enterprise is no exception. Uncertainty, lack of trade and changing working patterns affected many of our clients and projects, but we hung on in there and hopefully demonstrated our ability to adapt and continue to deliver a professional, helpful service.

Amazing colleagues – and on that note, we were privileged to work with some fantastic people – clients, architects, developers, project managers, care home providers, home owners, entrepreneurs, artists, all with their own professional challenges, but all resilient, creative and keen to involve us with their projects – it was inspiring. In particular, check out Bristol artists Carys Tait and  Zoe Power for their beautiful card designs that lifted us just when needed.

Planning matters – we’ve always been convinced that high-quality development can fundamentally affect how people live and respond to space, and the COVID situation brought that home in spades. Even the smallest flat deserves a decent outlook, quality natural light and good storage, whilst all our urban developments should aspire to incorporate accessible and sustainable outdoor space. Design matters and Planning matters – let’s hope the Government’s White Paper shake-up of the system and quest for housing building at all costs doesn’t let us lose sight of these. 

Unbounded learning – love them or loathe them, but on-line communications – be it teams, zoom or webinars – were a revelation. Learning in particular has never been so accessible. Whilst we miss the personal contact that comes with attending a breakfast seminar or conference, we also relish the ease with which we can now maintain our professional development, or simply explore new topic areas. Connectedness in this sense has been a huge plus.

Wonderful Women – We maintained our support for Bristol charity One25 and 2020 cemented our alliance with them. Never before has the work of this organisation been so critical, keeping women on the city’s streets safe and giving them love and hope. We joined CEO Anna Smith and other Bristol business women in forming a corporate fundraising taskforce, and completed the first (very soggy) leg of our Bristol-bridges charity walk. It was our honour to be involved with these wonderful women, and long may it continue.

And what we’re looking forward to…

Re-engagement – whilst it might still be some way off, we’re so looking forward to getting out there and re-engaging with our contacts in person. Nothing beats the stimulus of live interaction – brainstorming, bouncing ideas (and curveballs!) around, and the tangible sense of projects coming to fruition. We’ll stick to zoom in the meantime, but relish the day when we can do business over coffee and cake again without risk.

Being more agile – Boris might have other priorities just now, but he’s not done with the Planning System yet. Whatever the outcomes of the White Paper this coming year, we’re determined to be ready to respond and adapt and to steer the best path through the new regime for our clients, however arduous.

Growing again! (but not necessarily big) – whilst we’re keen to boast of a full job sheet again eventually, it’s not all about the numbers. Unusual projects, inspiring people and challenging experiences help us to grow both as Planners and individuals and add strength and depth to our business. So, aside from the paid work, we can’t wait to travel, to collaborate with other professionals, to push the boundaries of our industry knowledge and to acquire new skills. We’ve a video shoot coming up with Cryer and Coe Architects (suitably distanced of course) to visit their favourite buildings in Bristol – will be great to see the city through fresh eyes. 

Events – with plenty to catch up on (plus a significant birthday for both of us in 2021), we’re keen to get some events in the diary. Early Spring will hopefully see us complete the second leg of our Bristol Bridges Walk, whilst we’ve grand plans for a fundraising art auction for One25 at some point during the year. Finally, and with absolutely everything crossed, we would love to see you all for our resurrected annual drinks party in September. Vaccine permitting, there should be much to celebrate.

Playing the Lottery and winning BIG – just in case we get to lockdown#10, it’s always good to have a Plan B 😉

Well that’s us as we head into 2021, no doubt we’re in for another roller coaster, but we hope you’ll stay with us for the ride….