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 Piris-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 approximately 15 years of experience across all development sectors. He specialises in advising and leading on the roll-out of expanding property portfolios with various growing bar, restaurant and leisure operators including Brewdog Bars, Honest Burgers and Marugame. He advises landowners on various issues related to their asset management, and also works on a range of small, medium and large scale residential and mixed-use developments. This includes extensive experience of the expanding co-living sector, and various schemes undertaken under permitted development rights for upward airspace extensions.

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.

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.

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 Clements

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.

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.
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.
Chloe Ballantine

Chloe joined Firstplan in 2021 and has over 7 years’ experience working in the private sector. She has successfully acted on behalf of clients, working on both small and large scale commercial, residential, mixed-use, and roadside development projects. Chloe offers a broad range of planning services including undertaking initial site appraisals and providing strategy advice, site promotion, co-ordinating public engagement exercises, and negotiating the planning application process for clients. She is a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Raveen Bhamra

Raveen began her consultancy career in 2017, having previously worked in the public sector. She joined Firstplan in 2023. Raveen is a Chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and has experience in a broad range of large and small-scale projects within the commercial, industrial and logistics, education, life science, and residential sectors. Raveen has advised clients on the complexities of the planning process and has worked in every stage of the planning and development process from project inception to implementation.

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.
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.

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.

Ashkan Liaghat

Ashkan joined Firstplan in 2022 after working in both the public and private sectors. A chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, he has experience working on a range of projects, including both small and large scale industrial, commercial, residential, mixed-use, life-science and educational development projects. He guides clients through the complexities of the planning system by offering a comprehensive range of planning services including undertaking initial site appraisals and providing strategy advice, submitting representations to emerging Local Plans, co-ordinating public engagement exercises, and negotiating through the pre-application and planning application processes.

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.

 

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).

James Emblin

James graduated from Newcastle University in August 2018 with a Master’s Degree in Town Planning. Whilst at Firstplan, James has gained Chartered Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). He works on a wide range of projects, including those of a retail, leisure, residential, historic and industrial/minerals based nature throughout the UK, and has developed a breadth of experience in negotiating the planning application process on behalf of clients.

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.

Abid Mirza

Abid recently graduated from the University of Sheffield with an MPlan degree in Urban Studies and Planning. He is currently working towards completing his APC and aims to become a chartered member of the RTPI.

Myranda Morrison

Myranda recently completed her Master’s Degree in Urban Design and City Planning at University College London. Prior to this, she worked as a Planner in the United States. She is currently working towards completing her APC to achieve RTPI membership.

Darcey Morse

Darcey has recently completed her Master’s degree in Urban Design and City Planning at University College London. Prior to this she studied Architecture and Urban Planning at Newcastle University whereby she was awarded the Michael William’s prize for a commitment to planning.  She is now working towards completing her APC in order to achieve RTPI membership.

Amy Murray

Amy joined Firstplan in 2021, having graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a Masters degree in Spatial Planning. She has since gained Chartered Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) whilst working on a variety of large and small-scale projects across London and the UK, in sectors including education & community, heritage, restaurant & drive-thrus, leisure and events.

Orla Thompson

Orla has recently joined the team at Firstplan, having completed her Master’s degree in Urban Planning with Green Infrastructure and Landscape Planning at Newcastle University. She has experience in the private sector and is working towards completing her APC to achieve RTPI membership.

Charlie Wan

Charlie recently graduated from the University of Sheffield with an MPlan degree in Urban Studies and Planning. She possesses planning research experience in academia and the public sector in Hong Kong. She is currently working towards her APC and aims to become a chartered member of the RTPI.