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How to make a career change: Architecture to planning

Published on: 13 Dec 2016

You don't have to have originally studied planning to work in the profession. Linden Homes' strategic land and planning manager Jennifer Winyard tells us about how studying architecture has helped her become a better planner.


Jennifer WinyardWhat did you study and where did you work previously?

I did a BA in architecture at Newcastle University, and then worked for an architecture firm in Northumberland. It was here that I became familiar with the planning system and the application process, and came into contact with planners working in local government. I quickly realised that while I enjoyed the design element of architecture, it was how buildings fit into the wider built environment that most interested me, so I decided to go back and do my MSc in town and country planning.


What is your current job, and what does it entail?

As a land buyer, my job involves looking for strategic sites that we can develop in between three and 10 years. We then promote these sites through the planning system, submit planning applications, and eventually hand over to our regional business units to deliver. We usually deal with developments over 100 units on land larger than 10 acres.


What attracted you to planning?

Having the opportunity to look at the built environment more holistically and from a political angle rather than getting bogged down in the details of buildings. Initially, urban design also seemed an obvious way to combine my design experience with my ambitions as a town planner.


How did you find your route into planning?

I somewhat fell into planning through my BA studies. At school I don’t think I could have told you what a town planner was, but I began to gain an understanding of the profession through modules on my architecture course. It was only when I began working with planners in practice that I decided town planning was the route I wanted to take.


What advice would you give to people who are hoping to get into planning?

Don’t be afraid to approach planning from a different discipline. I think I am much more valuable as a town planner because I have that architectural design experience coupled with the planning perspective, which also allows me to develop better relationships with the architects that I work with on a daily basis.