First cohort of programme aiming to boost public sector planning expertise announced

Planners, architects and urban designers are among the 17 built environment professionals that have been chosen to help improve public sector design expertise under a pioneering new programme.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (front, centre) with the first 17 Public Practice associates in Croydon this morning
London mayor Sadiq Khan (front, centre) with the first 17 Public Practice associates in Croydon this morning

The Public Practice social enterprise, which is supported by the mayor of London and the Local Government Association, was founded last year to help address a lack of public sector planning capacity.

The 17 associates forming the first cohort of the programme were announced by the mayor Sadiq Khan this morning during a site visit to the East Croydon Masterplan area.

The first stage of the programme is aiming to boost design capabilities in council planning teams at a time when, according to Public Practice, almost half of all authorities have no in-house design capacity.

This first wave, who were selected from over 200 applicants, are a month into their year-long placements, which include roles at nine London Boroughs, three South East councils, two London development agencies, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London.

Their placement work includes setting up council-led housebuilding programmes and shaping masterplans for new gardens towns.

Public Practice describes its mission as building the public sector’s "capacity to improve the quality, and equality, of places".

Speaking at the launch, Public Practice co-founder Finn Williams said the aim is to roll the programme out to other parts of the country, particularly areas of high development activity, including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the Oxford-Cambridge corridor.

He said: "It's not about parachuting people in, it's strengthening what local authority teams are already doing."

Khan said: "In order to deliver the well-designed housing and public spaces our capital needs, it’s vital our local authorities benefit from fresh talent to boost their skills and capacity."

The 17 associates taking part the first cohort of Public Practice are:

  • Akil Scafe-Smith, an urban designer, who is joining the London Borough of Croydon’s spatial planning service as a placemaking officer.
  • Ione Braddick, an architect, educator and volunteer, who is the first urban designer to be employed in Epping Forest District Council’s planning & economic development team.
  • Kathy MacEwen, a town planner, who is joining the London Borough of Hounslow as a part-time principal urban design officer.
  • Jan Ackenhausen, an urbanist, who is taking up the role of principal urban designer with the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation.
  • Ei-Lyn Chia, an urban designer who is joining the GLA’s planning team.
  • Alpa Depani, an architect, who is taking up the new part-time role of town centre design associate in the housing, planning and regeneration team at the London Borough of Sutton.
  • Tom Fox, an architect, who is taking up a joint role shared between St. Albans City and District Council and Dacorum Borough Council as principal planning officer.
  • Jennifer Gutteridge, an urban planner, who is joining the new Royal Docks delivery team established by the GLA and the London Borough of Newham as a design advisor.
  • Rachel Hearn, an architect and project manager, who is taking up the role of principal urban design officer with the London Borough of Havering.
  • Gwenaël Jerrett, an architect, who is joining the London Legacy Development Corporation as senior designer in the development directorate.
  • Hannah Lambert, a strategic regeneration and design professional, who is joining the the London Borough of Newham's regeneration and planning team as senior regeneration manager.
  • Hana Loftus, who works on civic, cultural and community projects, joins South Cambridgeshire District Council part-time as planning and special projects officer.
  • Lucia Cerrada Morato, an architect, urban designer and academic, is joining London Borough of Tower Hamlets as high density development project manager.
  • Sophie Palmer, an architect, is taking up the position of design and delivery coordinator at the London Borough of Bexley.
  • Sheeba Shetty, an urban designer-planner, has joined TfL city planning team as an assistant urban designer.
  • Adam Summerfield, an urban design, placemaking and strategic planning professional, is joining Westminster City Council as a place shaping officer.
  • Tom Sykes, an architect and tutor, is joining the TfL property development team as projects design manager.

More information on the programme can be found here.

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