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Interview with Joe Ridgeon, Planning consultant

Joe Ridgeon is a planning consultant at George F White
What do you currently do?
I am a planning consultant with George F White, a leading firm of chartered surveyors and chartered town planners based in the north of England. I deal with a range of planning issues and am currently promoting a number of strategic development sites across the north-east. I work out of our Wolsingham office in County Durham and have an enjoyable commute to work every day, going in the opposite direction to all the traffic.
If I wasn’t in planning, I’d probably be….
A musician, but I’m not sure I would manage to pay the bills! I currently play the euphonium for the NASUWT Riverside Band. We played in the national finals at the Royal Albert Hall in October 2013 as North-East Regional Champions – for the first time in the band’s 136-year history!
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
Joining George F White as the second town planner and helping build the planning team into what it is today, with eight professionals across four offices. 
What attracted you to the profession?
I was a geography geek at university and planning was an opportunity to put into practice the urban theory that fascinated me. Who wouldn’t be interested in the built environment in which everyone lives?
What single piece of advice would you give to someone thinking 
of taking on a secondment opportunity as you have done?
Do it! Taking a secondment is a fantastic opportunity to get a new perspective on planning. This allows you to appreciate where other planning professionals are coming from, which I have found to be invaluable in my career. It is also a great way of building contacts with a wide range of professionals.
If you could change one thing about the planning profession, 
what would it be?
I would like to see design become a more integral part of the planning profession. Good design is fundamental to good planning and should be higher up the agenda. I would also like the profession to have more say in the planning system: there have been major changes nearly every year in the six years I have been a planner. Planners should be given the opportunity to implement a change before having to start again.


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