We caught up with Jane Shepherd, owner of TheTownPlanner for an insight into her business.
Please name the main purpose of your business.
We deliver planning services, providing advice and assistance with applications, appeals, enforcement and policy matters. We cover all sectors, including householder extensions, housing, retail, business, leisure, and tourism. Our customers are also across the board and include individuals, landowners, developers, and businesses. We deal with planning from both sides of the fence: those wanting to promote their development and those who want to stop development. We can project manage the whole process for clients working alongside appointed professionals such as architects, ecologists, and engineers. Whilst it is best for us to be involved at the outset, we can also be brought in to support existing professionals.
What are the benefits of operating in Moray?
Moray is a mixture of rural and urban providing many different and exciting projects for us to get involved with. We know that the environment and landscape in Moray is important to the community. Therefore we work closely with clients to ensure we play our part in protecting the area for future generations.
How do you connect to your local customers?
We are an independent company providing planning services that are not readily available locally. We gain business through repeat clients and referrals in the area. It is important to us to continue to forge strong working relationships and promote our services with local people, the community, and businesses, who may not realise that there is an alternative option. Many people turn to other professionals when the best choice is in fact a Chartered town planner who is fully qualified and can focus on planning matters.
Why are you part of Moray Chamber of Commerce?
As a relatively new company, we are finding that running the business side is a fast learning curve. We joined to gain all the benefits of networking and gain knowledge from likeminded and fellow business people in the area. It is important to us to be part of the local business community.
What are you most proud of?
Whilst I am very extremely proud of the planning profession and the benefits it can bring to it the community; I am very much aware that the planning process can appear bureaucratic and obstructive to many people. I am proud that I can help people navigate through the process because I fully understand how the system works from the inside. If there is a solution, I will dig deep to find it. am also proud that am a professional planner with strong ethics and morals. Being honest with clients and never leading them up the garden path is important to us. was particularly proud to be told by a client - "May I compliment you on a very 'human' and approachable style…not something planners are renowned for!"
Finally, name one misconception that people have about your business.
There are so many to choose from because town planning is one of the most misunderstood professions. We see it as our duty to quash all those myths that are out there! If I had to name one it would be about what we do because the job title assumes that we plan towns (not villages or rural areas!) and all work for the Council. What we do is we work through the planning process on behalf of our clients to try and achieve the outcome they want with the Council. Our key role is to help clients by either demonstrating that proposals meet or do not meet the Council's policy tests.