Company background +

Firstplan is a leading independent planning consultancy providing specialist advice on all aspects of town planning.  Based in central London, Firstplan works nationally throughout the UK with both private and public sector clients and has excellent relations with many planning departments.  Our expertise is predominantly focused on development planning and we have a proven track record of successfully leading commercial development through the planning process. 

Established in 2003, Firstplan is headed up by ten experienced Directors, each specialising in different areas of planning.  Every project, large or small, is managed by a Firstplan Director who is supported by a strong team of qualified planners. 

Changing economic times and ongoing government reforms call for a different approach to development and planning.  The emphasis at Firstplan is on finding creative ways to work within the planning system to provide our clients with realistic, viable planning solutions.

Sam Harper

Sam joined Firstplan in 2007. He retains a wide portfolio of clients, including large landowners, development companies, cinemas, schools and many high street operators. Sam continues to work on a range of different proposals throughout the UK, across all stages of the planning system, from plan forming and development briefs with, amongst others, National Grid; development proposals for a variety of uses, including residential, mixed use, commercial and community functions, school expansions and cinemas; and has secured permission for refurbishment, extension and reconfiguration of numerous heritage assets.

Chris Jones
Chris joined Firstplan as a planning consultant in 2013 with experience in the public and private sectors. During his time at Firstplan Chris has gained valuable experience across almost all planning sectors. Chris works with a variety of residential and mixed-use developers, together with a range of community/education, heritage and retail/restaurant clients. Chris has a breadth of experience across the whole planning process from initial planning appraisals as part of site acquisition processes through to the submission of complex mixed-use planning applications.
Kate Matthews

Kate started her career at Firstplan and now has a wide ranging project experience, from residential developments, minerals and waste planning, mixed-use development and restaurants to complex heritage issues, green belt and metropolitan open land proposals.  She has a particular skill with environmental considerations and works with a broad range of clients including national institutional investors and developers.

Sally Miles

Sally has over 25 years of experience of working in the private sector.  She has a proven track record of successfully delivering planning permissions for complex projects which meet the commercial interests of clients.  She has been retained by a number of national operators and developers to secure consents and to provide strategic advice.  She has particular expertise in the retail, logistics, industrial and trade sectors.

Michael Mills

Michael acts on behalf of predominantly private sector clients and his experience includes providing planning advice and undertaking retail studies to secure planning consents for supermarkets, non-food retailers warehouse developments and mixed use town centre schemes. He has also been involved in a variety of schemes which include hotel, restaurant, leisure, employment and residential developments.

Mark Shearman

Mark has over a decade of experience in private consultancy, and deals with a wide range of development sectors with a focus on commercial, retail, restaurant, leisure and residential projects. He has also advised on housing development in the expanding private rental sector – including Build to Rent and co-living/HMOs – and has extensive experience dealing with heritage and listed building matters.

Vilna Walsh

Vilna has worked in private practice since 1997, and her extensive experience covers residential, retail and mixed use developments, office, entertainment, restaurant and leisure proposals, intermodal transport developments and regeneration schemes. She has a particular expertise in industrial proposals including remediation schemes and minerals and waste planning and is an associate member of the Mineral Products Association. Vilna has had extensive involvement with planning inquiries, informal hearings and EiPs, and has a wealth of experience in managing large scale applications and appeals, overseeing multidisciplinary teams, and the co-ordination of EIA development proposals.

Mike Woolner

Mike’s extensive experience includes proposals for town and city centres, retail parks, mixed use schemes, residential developments, offices, leisure, minerals, and industry. He works with leading members of the Planning Bar, and has given evidence at numerous planning and similar inquiries.

Tim Williams

Tim has worked in private practice since 2007. He provides town planning advice to a range of clients, including Waitrose, specialist regeneration companies and private individuals. Tim has secured planning permission for schemes ranging from small and large scale residential projects to offices, hotels, restaurants, hostels, student accommodation, theatres, schools, petrol filling stations, warehouses and industrial uses up to and including major retail led mixed use regeneration schemes. Tim has significant experience in project management, planning appeals, promoting sites through emerging local plans, and the preparation of planning applications involving listed buildings and conservation areas.

Tito Arowobusoye
Tito has been working at Firstplan since 2016 following from experience gained in the public sector and completion of her masters at the University of Westminster. Whilst at Firstplan Tito has gained Chartered Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). She manages a varied workload, and has experience in delivering projects across a variety of sectors including residential, restaurant, leisure, employment, heritage and aggregates schemes. Tito advises a range of clients on the full spectrum of planning services to enable them to progress through the planning process; this comprises site appraisals, pre-application consultations, planning applications including negotiation on conditions, appeals and making representations to emerging local plans.
Adam Bunn

Adam joins Firstplan as an Associate, bringing to the firm over a decade’s worth of experience advising public and private sector clients with particular focus on retail, commercial leisure and town centres.

Karen Calkin

Karen joins Firstplan as an associate and is a chartered town planner with over 15 years of experience working in the private sector. Karen has worked on a wide range of large and small scale projects throughout the UK including residential, trade, industrial, commercial and mixed use developments through to listed building projects.

Tim Humphries

Tim joined the Firstplan team in 2017 following roles in both the public and private sectors. Coming from a planning policy background at South Bucks District Council, he gained membership to the RTPI in 2017 whilst at Firstplan. He has experience in working on a range of projects throughout the UK within both the commercial and residential sectors for a variety of corporate and individual clients.

Jack Clemance
Jack has been a member of the Firstplan team since joining in 2014 and has achieved chartered status with the RTPI. Jack currently acts for a range of clients involving industrial projects, engineering operations, commercial  and residential developments. This has included projects involving heritage designations and various environmental considerations.
Gemma Davis

Working in the private sector Gemma has experience of a wide range of projects, including office headquarters, residential towers, heritage schemes, major town centre mixed use schemes, and large business park redevelopments primarily throughout London and the south-east. She has successfully negotiated numerous large schemes from inception through to the receipt of planning permission and through to construction. Having worked in both the policy and development control sides of the public sector in the past, Gemma brings a sound knowledge of the systems and processes of Local Authorities to benefit her work at Firstplan.

Stephanie Gray

Stephanie joined Firstplan in 2019 and is a chartered town planner with over seven years’ experience in the private sector. She has advised on a variety of planning and development projects throughout the UK including masterplans and capital projects for numerous universities, two new towns in the northeast of Scotland and a range of sport and industrial schemes.

Christian Holliday

Christian joined Firstplan in 2020 having previously worked for planning and infrastructure consultancies in London and the South East. He has over 17 years planning experience gained in a wide range of sectors including residential, major infrastructure, airport DCO development, regeneration schemes, storage and distribution, green belt development and waste operations. Christian’s areas of expertise include planning advice, due diligence, site promotion, planning applications, appeals and giving evidence at EiPs. He has worked for a variety of clients, including Amazon, Hammerson, Heathrow West, Network Rail, VolkerStevin, and numerous smaller developers. Christian has been a Chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute since 2009.

Tom Woolner

Tom is a chartered town planner with the Royal Town Planning Institute, with over 10 years’ experience working within the private sector. He works on a wide range of projects, including large mixed-use retail schemes, listed buildings, residential and industrial schemes right through to smaller niche projects that require a particular attention to detail and a creative strategy. Tom advises on initial site prospects and strategy and has experience submitting and project managing a wide range of planning applications and appeals throughout the U.K.

Gerard Manley
Gerard has worked for Firstplan since graduating from Newcastle University and following experience in the public and private sectors. During his time at Firstplan Gerard has gained Chartered Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). He works on a variety of projects throughout the UK for some of the leading names in conservation, commercial, residential and retail development.

 

Catherine Whyte
Catherine joined Firstplan in 2010 and has experience of working in both the public and private sector. She has had involvement in a wide range of projects from residential, commercial mixed-use schemes through to listed building and conservation projects. Catherine has worked on large and small scale developments for a variety of clients including Nando’s, Everyman Cinema, Soho House alongside individual developers. She is a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Emma Conwell

Emma is an RTPI chartered planner with wide ranging experience of working on both small scale and large scale developments within London and the south east. She has a background in preparing planning appraisals alongside managing projects through the planning process, advising and assisting with public engagement, co-ordinating project teams, preparing reports for planning applications and appeals including drafting proof of evidence and negotiations with local planning authorities on a broad range of schemes.

She has a wide breath of experience across residential, commercial, retail, education, office and hotel land uses including those with heritage implications across central and Greater London respectively. Emma always seeks opportunities to optimise development potential of application sites.

George Creamer

George graduated from the University of the West of England with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He joined Firstplan in 2017 following a successful internship in his final year of University, and has since worked on a range of retail, leisure, residential and mixed-use development opportunities, whilst also gaining chartered membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Sarah Pyne

Sarah is an MRTPI Chartered Planner with over six years’ experience within planning consultancy.  She joined Firstplan in December 2019 with a wide range of experience delivering retail, residential and commercial developments across the UK.

Rory Coles

Rory has recently graduated from Cardiff University with a masters degree in Urban Planning and International Development. Since joining in July 2021, Rory has worked on a range of projects in a variety of sectors and is now working towards completing his APC in order to achieve RTPI membership.

James Emblin

James graduated from Newcastle University in August 2018 with a Master’s Degree in Town Planning. Since joining Firstplan in September 2018, James has worked on a range of projects, including those of a retail, leisure, residential, historic and industrial based nature throughout the UK. James also recently gained chartered membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Joshua Hindle

Joshua has recently completed his Master’s degree in Spatial Planning at University College London. Having joined Firstplan in 2021 with some experience in the private sector, he is now working towards completing his APC in order to achieve RTPI membership.

Ian Keith

Ian graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2017 with a degree in Planning and Development. His degree included a placement year at Hertsmere Borough Council with rotations in development management and planning enforcement. Ian joined Firstplan in October 2018 from an independent planning consultancy based in Hertfordshire, bringing experience in the public and private sectors. He now works with a wide range of clients from multinational companies to independent landowners and developers across a multitude of planning sectors including commercial, industrial and residential. Since joining Firstplan, Ian has gained Associate membership of the RTPI and is now working towards achieving full chartered membership via the Associate-APC.

Amy Murray

Amy joined Firstplan in April 2021, having graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a Masters degree in Spatial Planning. She is now working towards her APC and becoming a Chartered member of the RTPI.

Claire Stafford

Claire joined Firstplan in September 2019 after obtaining a distinction in her Master’s degree in Urban Planning at Newcastle University. She now works with a range of clients across a variety of sectors and is focussed on completing her APC shortly to become a Chartered member of the RTPI