An Introduction – Why me? Why planning?

By Vincent Wall. Since before I can remember I’ve always felt an admiration for the built environment. One of my earliest memories is  looking down from Highgate Hill towards the mass of the City and appreciating the vast urban expanse. That said, when visiting Stonehenge as a child I never considered the time, effort, organisation and planning that led to the erecting and ultimately provided the meaning and respect that inhibits those oddly assembled blocks. It was only years later that I was able to consider, in awe, Stonehenge, the pyramids, Paris, the bridge at Avignon, The Amphitheatre of El Jem and my family home as human achievements, built by people (more or less) exactly like me.

I was raised in Ascot, Berkshire, close to Bracknell “New Town” and Windsor. Growing up near to such different, yet quintessentially British places led me to wonder; why was there a castle and river in one? What did it mean for a town to be “New”? How could these places be so close, yet so dissimilar? Why did Bracknell have so many roundabouts?

It was not until studying my undergraduate degree in history that I was truly able to grasp the role of foresight and planning. In particular, studying the renovation of Paris in the later half of the 19th century spurred me to consider how fun being a planner might be. Paris is such a timeless and aesthetically pleasing City, how could I not be charmed? But it was also inspiring to discover the other motivations for the renovation: security, control, hygiene, health and commerce.

Following a dissertation which looked at the development of Bracknell, I went on to study Spatial Planning at University College London. Not only did I learn a lot from the course, but studying in London was an education in itself. By undertaking a variety of modules from conservation to community engagement to urban design, I was able to appreciate the multitudes that shape and guide planners. I was also able to meet various students who already worked in planning, who provided insight into what practical planning involved.

After leaving UCL I was lucky enough to be employed by RPS as an assistant planner. Here I was able to work on a wide variety of projects, great and small. In particular, I enjoyed working on Strategic Rail Freight interchange projects. I also took pride in problem solving with interest in Section 106s and CIL calculations.

Now I have joined Urbanissta and look forward to gaining more experience managing projects as well as developing my existing knowledge of the planning system. I aspire to become an accomplished planner, and I believe Urbanissta will provide an opportunity for me to develop into that role. The buildings, roads and infrastructure that surround us are fundamental to the lives we live, and I feel privileged to be able to spend so much to thinking about them.

Aside from planning, I’m interested in art, cinema, reading and running. I also mess about on the drums and enjoy Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, both admittedly at a basic level. I prefer bicycles and motor bikes over cars. I love visiting other countries as well as parts of the UK. Copenhagen tops my list of livable cities. In life I believe sharing a meal, talking, laughing and tasting good food, is second to none.

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