As Planning & Design Practice celebrate 20 years of success, founder Jonathan Jenkin looks back and offers his reflections on our 20th anniversary of providing town planning services, architectural expertise and specialised heritage advice.
In 1999 I was working for the Environment Agency as their Regional Planning Manager, and I did not enjoy it. The Environment Agency only comments on flood risk, the protection of their ‘main rivers and the protection of groundwater. I was managing the four teams in the Midlands Region, but I did not get to deal with the applications. I had to commute to Solihull from Ashbourne, and I was beginning to dread going to work on a Monday morning.
So, with the support of my civil partner Phil, I quit. I’d worked as a Principal Planning Officer for two councils and was a chartered town planner. So, I started a consultancy, initially working out of a small office of my partner’s art gallery and café in Ashbourne. I enjoy planning and architecture and although I had never run my own business, there seemed nothing to lose.
I quickly received work locally, rural work, in the Derbyshire Dales. I formed a good working relationship with Nick Hansen from Bagshaws and we started getting planning permission for his clients and evaluating the potential of farms and farmsteads.
I undertook an evening CAD course at University of Derby, and I started preparing drawings as well as the planning applications and statements to support the applications. In those pre-digital days it was four paper copies of all documents and I because a regular at dropping off envelopes at Matlock, Ripley, Bakewell, and Derby.
These early successes prompted a move to premises in Derby, and in 2002 Planning & Design Practice was created as a stand-alone company.
Twenty years later the company has become a major player in development. We have 17 staff, two principal offices, one in Derby and one in Sheffield and we are both a chartered planning practice and an accredited RIBA practice. We have achieved successful development on several thousand sites, we have won several significant planning appeals and generated many millions of pounds of development value across the Midlands, in the Southeast and in South Yorkshire.
In 2021 I stepped back from the leadership of the company and sold the business through an MBO. I now work part time as a consultant planner with time to pursue new interests and opportunities. The new shareholders are Richard Pigott, Jon Millhouse, and Michael Bamford.
I was pleased to welcome Jon Millhouse to the company back in 2005. He is now a company Director, part owner of the company and runs our heritage team. He is an acknowledged expert on listed buildings, conservation areas and the World Heritage site. Lindsay Cruddas our lead architect and company Director, is also an accredited conservation architect and together they provide sensitive development solutions in constrained locations.
Richard Pigott is a chartered town planner and joined the company in 2011. He specialises in appeals and major applications. Michael Bamford is also a chartered town planner and runs our Sheffield Office and is the third shareholder and a Director.
We are a team of committed professionals. The new management team has brought a new energy to the business and is exploring new opportunities. They are building on the company’s past achievements, its reputation, and its legacy. Their aim is to build further on the company’s reputation in rural development, heritage, and architecture with more large-scale high-profile projects and in extending the reach in which the company operates.
As we celebrate this 20th Anniversary, I am proud of what we have achieved, the clients we have helped and the problems we have solved and continue to solve. In the end the work is about problem solving, understanding our client’s needs, and providing a bridge between the client and the Local Planning Authority.
Jonathan Jenkin, Consultant, Planning & Design Practice Ltd