The demand for planners across the UK is increasing and opportunities are arising with more regularity in locations such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle to name a few. Similarly, consultancies, house builders and local authorities in more rural parts of the country are also in need of planners from graduates through to directors/heads of planning and many clients ask us, will people relocate for this role? It’s a difficult question to answer and there are many factors to consider, but here is why (in my opinion as a relocator) it’s often a great thing to do.
Relocating and working in a new location provides you with almost unique experience as a planner. We all know that local (as well as national) politics is often at the heart of planning matters and working across several locations provides you with many challenges and the opportunity to distinguish your experience from others. For example, at the moment, development activity in Birmingham is providing planners the opportunity to engage on groundbreaking schemes in the city centre delivering impressive numbers of residential units with unique designs and commercial spaces that are changing the city skyline. On the other hand, Cambridge is proving to be a superb location to work for planners who wish to harness their strategic planning skills as housing is (like most places) needed and obtaining permission for development is a challenge that will develop your skills.
Career progression is crucial and relocating can provide a planner with the right experience, an ideal opportunity to progress their career. As investment in the regions continues to increase, the demand for planners follows suit and provides opportunities for planners to use their experience to assist the growth in places such as Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle where planning consultancies, in particular, are strengthening their teams and require experienced planners to manage projects and assist in the development of inexperienced planners. Similarly, the public sector must respond and where investment goes it is followed by an increase in planning applications and, therefore, an increase in demand for planning officers.
Professional reasoning like broadening your experience and progressing your career seem straightforward reasons to relocate but I have not forgotten it is mostly a personal decision. The list of personal reasons for relocating is vast and I wouldn’t wish to pretend I can address them all; however, relocating early in your career provides you the opportunity to broaden your network and with the variety of networking groups across the industry you will quickly make new friends. It has been a superb couple of years for the Young Planners who have established themselves across the regions. Women in Planning are growing at a very exciting rate with new committees in places such as Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham and networks that span the property industry such as Young Entrepreneurs in Property (YEP) provide compelling and socially enjoyable events.
On the other hand, relocating when you have a family is far from easy. However, the superb array of opportunities available across the UK provides planners looking to address the work-life balance with an array of options to consider. Flexible working is no longer a mythical unicorn but something more widely embraced across the public and private sectors with businesses understanding the demands of commuting on family life and your work output. So whilst relocating is never an easy decision, there are many positive reasons as to why relocating could lead to the right role for you.
Jason Moore is principal consultant for recruitment agency the Blayze Group