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 nine 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.

Jane Gleeson

Jane has many years experience across all development sectors. She provides strategic planning advice and handles complex planning applications and appeals and has appeared as an expert witness at numerous planning inquiries. She has particular expertise in restaurant and leisure development and listed building issues and has won an RTPI Award for Planning for Transport.

Sam Harper

Sam has worked for Firstplan for over nine years. He retains a wide portfolio of commercial and residential clients and works on a range of different proposals throughout the UK. This includes managing Nando’s complete new restaurant and refurbishment programme, and similar proposals for other operators. He has also successfully secured consents for the restoration and extension of listed buildings for Everyman Group, large scale industrial installations for a variety of operators, and significant engineering operations for National Grid.

Shirley Karat

Shirley generally acts on behalf of private sector clients. Her extensive experience includes planning advice for mixed use town centre schemes, supermarkets and non food retail warehouse developments for retailers, developers and investors. She also advises on specialist areas, such as trade parks, as well as leisure and employment developments. Shirley has given evidence at a number of inquiries, and also advises on regeneration and environmental issues.

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.

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 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, LXB RP, Workman, specialist regeneration companies and private individuals. Tim has successfully secured planning permission for a wide spectrum of developments 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.

Beverley Bateman

Beverley has worked in private practice for over fifteen years and has experience of a wide variety of developments from large scale residential, commercial and mixed use through to new schools and conservation projects. With extensive experience of planning applications, inquiries and hearings, Beverley has worked for a number of high profile clients including Waitrose, National Grid, Laura Ashley and the Duchy of Cornwall.

Chris Jones
Chris joined Firstplan in 2013 with experience in the public and private sectors. During his time as a planning consultant at Firstplan Chris has gained valuable experience across all planning sectors working with some of the leading names in residential, commercial, conservation 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.
Jack Clemance
Jack joined the team at Firstplan in 2014 shortly after graduating from university in order to pursue a career in town planning. He has since gone on to develop his knowledge, skills and experience of planning related work across a breadth of industries and project areas. He is currently working towards gathering the required experience for a successful APC submission and achieve RTPI membership in the near future.
George Creamer

George graduated from the University of the West of England with a degree in Architecture and Planning. He recently joined Firstplan following a successful internship in his final year of university, and is now working towards completing his APC in order to achieve his RTPI membership.

Tito Arowobusoye
Tito joined Firstplan in 2016 having completed her masters at the University of Westminster. Tito previously worked for a local authority and is currently working towards achieving RTPI membership through the APC.
Josh Dickinson
Josh started working for Firstplan whilst completing his Masters at the University of Westminster in 2015. Now he has completed his studies he is working towards becoming a chartered town planner and works on a wide variety of projects with in the company’s portfolio. Josh works on a variety of projects throughout the UK for some of the biggest commercial and industrial clients. He has also worked on major residential and student housing projects with heritage considerations.
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.


Tim Humphries

Tim recently joined Firstplan following roles in both the public and private sectors. Coming from a planning policy background at South Bucks District Council he has worked on a variety of projects throughout the UK for commercial and residential schemes. He is currently working towards chartership with the RTPI through the APC submission.

Daniel Melling

Dan joined Firstplan in 2016, shortly after completing his Masters at the University of Sheffield. He assists in providing planning advice to a range of clients across the UK and is currently working towards completing his APC in order to achieve RTPI membership.


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