Eleanor Gingell is a senior planner for Pegasus Planning Group, has been volunteer with Planning Aid England for seven years and was recently awarded a British Empire Medal for neighbourhood planning work in Northampton. After graduating in geography at Durham University, she went to work for the planning team at Northampton Borough Council and while there did a part-time MSc in spatial planning at Oxford Brookes University. She joined Pegasus Planning Group in 2013.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
A I work on a wide range of projects, mostly for housebuilders, dealing with applications and appeals and also raising awareness in the development industry of what neighbourhood planning really is and how important it is to get to the table early – nobody likes a dinner party guest turning up late and then saying they don't like the meal. Every six months we are measured on objectives, which are not just based on profit but ensuring Pegasus is out there and building on its reputation.
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
A Manage expectations. Planning is a quasi-legal system with rules, regulations and court judgements. It has its limits but I get frustrated when someone promises the earth knowing they can't deliver. Up-front engagement has a bad press but helps manage expectations for all involved.
If you really believe in it, find a way to do it. Planning has lots of rules and is like a board game, but if you feel an area deserves more than is being offered you can often work with the regulations and the system to deliver. It may take longer but, with determination, you will get there eventually.
Network. No matter who it is or where they are from, you will learn something. The more people you know the more chance you have to increase your knowledge base. I'm first to admit I'm not the most knowledgeable on detailed heritage matters but I know people who can help me if needs arise.