Our second Very Important Professional of 2018 is Justin Cove from Nexus Planning. Nexus is an independent planning consultancy operated and managed by Chartered Town Planners. They have worked on projects across the UK including; Barons Quay, Sherborne Wharf, Northampton County Council and St Ann's Hospital.
As a Director at Nexus Planning, how would you describe your role?
Varied! No day is ever the same and I’m lucky enough to be working with a great team who are involved in a range of projects, in a number of different sectors. If I was to try and summarise it, my role is primarily split between managing the delivery of planning instructions for our current clients and helping to seek out new opportunities to continue the growth of the business. It’s a people orientated profession and the nature of the planning process allows me to get out of the office, meet people and visit sites. This helps to keep the job interesting and varied, which I like.
What are your plans for 2018?
Build upon the hard work and achievements of the team over the last few years, that has seen the Manchester team triple in size since I joined in 2012, from three to nine staff. We now have a platform to take the next step in the growth of the business.
What are the challenges you face in your role?
More often than not the final outcome of any project is ultimately out of my control, be it Planning Committee decisions, appeal decisions, or Local Plan Examinations, but this is the nature of the planning profession for a planning consultant. The challenge is to make sure that the risk faced by our clients is managed appropriately by adopting a planning strategy from the outset that suits that particular circumstance and maximises the chances of a successful outcome. Taking a ‘One Size Fits All’ approach will inevitably lead to problems and should be avoided.
How does the industry continue to inspire you?
The continuing evolution of the planning system. Whilst this may be seen as a frustration by some and lead to ambiguity on occasion, it keeps planning professionals on their toes and I have never been allowed to be complacent – there’s always something new to learn. The great thing about the planning industry is that it is varied and complex enough to allow you to pursue your own particular interests.
Why did you become a town planner?
I always had an interest in the evolution of the built environment and regeneration. Growing up in Bolton, I was surrounded by the legacy of the cotton mill industry and the need for regeneration initiatives to either convert mill buildings or demolish them to make way for new developments. Like a lot of town planners I initially did a geography degree because I wasn’t sure exactly what role would fulfil my interest. After my degree, I decided to pursue a part-time Masters in Environmental Planning whilst working and managed to get a student placement at the former Chester City Council in the development control department and started to manage planning applications. The rest is history!
Tell us about the greatest achievement in your career to date.
It’s genuinely difficult to pick one because there has been a series of achievements, each of which was an important milestone in my professional development. In a general sense, making a success of the transition from local government to private sector consultancy is something I’m proud of and being an Expert Witness at appeal Public Inquiries, is probably the most challenging thing I’ve had to do in my career, so I’m pleased to have achieved that.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from colleagues early on in your career, the years of experience they have gained are invaluable.
Keep an eye on our blog page to find out who will be March's Very Important Professional.