Apryl - Planning Development

Photo of AprylI applied for the 2023 Planning internship during my second year studying Geography at the University of Liverpool. I decided to apply for this 3-month internship after really enjoying the planning and sustainability modules at university. I have learnt so much in my time here not only just about planning but also myself.

In the first few weeks I spent time getting involved with the planning team by shadowing planning validators. By the end of the week, I was validating planning applications in my name, including household extensions. I learned what the first steps of a planning application are, and how it goes from validation to completion. I was made to feel part of the team by attending regular meetings, where officers discussed applications together. The experience I most enjoyed was getting to go out on site visits in multiple locations across West Suffolk. I got to put up site notices and compare plans to the sites to evaluate the applications, this allowed me to apply knowledge I had learned at university.

Throughout the summer, I became involved with a range of projects. One project for my team was to create a design audit to gauge an understanding of what design means to planners. I started by researching design and reading other audits to find out more about design. I then created a survey to be distributed within the planning team including questions on what design means to them, and if they feel their training is up to date. Working with planning officers I adapted questions to the areas they thought would be important to the survey. Another task I was given was to write a draft Tree Protection Order (TPO) report and create a presentation to present at Delegation Panel. I was given the responsibility of presenting in front of councillors and planning officers. Presenting an application was a great experience and helped improve my confidence.

Alongside my work within the planning team, I have worked with the five other interns on a volunteering project. Our brief was to encourage volunteering across West Suffolk and research the link with the cost-of-living crisis. We organised and ran three market stalls including one at the Food and Drink Festival in Bury St Edmunds. We contacted volunteer organisations to collect leaflets and Moyse's Hall Museum for artifacts to display. At these market stalls, we surveyed the public to research the link between the cost-of-living crisis and the demographic of volunteers. I also worked to create information for a future information page on the council intranet all about volunteering. This involved contacting many departments and interviewing staff members to create case studies.

Starting this internship, I was unsure what to expect. I did not have confidence in my workplace skills, but this has drastically improved. The work environment has been positive, and I have felt supported during my time here. It has been an invaluable experience that I would thoroughly recommend.