What our students say

Adam Hunt

Subject of study: Urban and Regional Planning MA
Current employer: London Borough of Haringey
Current job title: Tottenham Planning and Regeneration Manager

Why did you choose the University of Westminster to study Urban and Regional Planning?

I chose Westminster due to its reputation for research and the lecturers’ reputations for being able to communicate how spatial planning theories can be applied in real world situations. The university’s location is also ideal, as it is so well connected within central London.

How has your career developed since graduating?

I was given the opportunity at Haringey Council to lead on a programme of regeneration and town planning projects as part of the ‘Tottenham Regeneration Programme.’ The regeneration programme was set up following the riots of August 2011 (which started in Tottenham). It is a key role within a large, diverse and complex organisation and I genuinely enjoy the challenges that this brings.

What does your current role involve?

My responsibilities include project managing the development of a detailed master plan and associated evidence bases for a 12 hectare urban site in north Tottenham; and the development of an estate renewal strategy for 300 Council homes in the master plan area. I work closely with the Greater London Authority and other key public and private stakeholders (such as major developers, Registered Providers and Network Rail) to develop design solutions, phasing principles and a financial viability assessment. I also deliver consultation and communications strategies for resident, business and stakeholder engagement. I develop investment strategies and business cases to underpin the regeneration and development programme.

How has your experience at the University of Westminster helped you in your career?

The course gave me an excellent grounding in all aspects of spatial planning (both theoretical and practical) and this has been essential in giving me the confidence, skills and aptitude to take on such a challenging role in regeneration at Haringey Council. I still enjoy returning to the University to give presentations to the postgraduate Urban Planning group on some of my key projects and programmes.

Kiran Curtis

Subject of study: Urban and Regional Planning MA
Current employer: Kiran Curtis Associates
Current job title: Managing Director

Why did you choose the University of Westminster for your studies?

I was attracted by the businesslike attitude that came across from Westminster in more ways than one. It may sound strange but I thought the guillotine-like approach to handing work in on time would be a good discipline and make sure I completed the course on time. Also the Planning Department employs a lot of staff who have real world experience and invite practitioners in to lecture quite often. Finally the central London location made attending part-time much easier.

How has your career developed since graduating?

The knowledge that I gained from the course was immediately useful in allowing me to expand the services that my practice KCA offers and to provide added value to our existing clients. This has proved essential in maintaining a positive work stream in a very competitive market.

What does your current role involve?

I am responsible for winning new work, leading on complex and larger projects, overseeing the services KCA provides and the overall management of the practice.

How has your experience at the University of Westminster helped you in your career?

Studying as a mature student part-time was a challenging experience. I certainly gained lots of practical knowledge in my chosen discipline but it also helped me further develop a number of other skills such as being able to research, appraise and assimilate information rapidly. However it was also very refreshing to take the time to explore subjects academically, for their own sake.

Yvonne Sampoh

Subject of study: Urban and Regional Planning MA
Current employer: Southwark Council
Current job title: Project Officer (Planning)

Why did you choose the University of Westminster for your studies?

The course is delivered through 100% coursework (encompassing workshops and project based studies) which was suitable for my work life balance, as I worked full-time. The course was also well known for its strong emphasis on urban design which was particularly important for me.

What does your current role involve?

My current role involves delivering projects to improve the built environment, to mitigate against the negative effects caused by nearby developments. I am responsible for identifying and releasing section 106 funding which becomes available when development occurs, and when legal agreements secure this funding. This is a constitutional process which involves report writing and presenting at committees to justify particular projects meeting the criteria for section 106 funding. My job involves partnership working with a number of internal and external partners.

How has your career developed since graduating?

Following the completion of my course I am now playing a more active role in the constitutional process of releasing money to improve the environment, which involves presenting to councillors and report writing to justify the allocation of funding to deliver projects to benefit the community.

Following my degree I also help the development management team in interpreting legal agreements to understand the conditions to which funding from developers are allocated to the council, as well as helping the planning policy team.

How has your experience at the University of Westminster helped you in your career?

I have gained a deeper knowledge of the concepts of sustainable development, regeneration and urban design within the built environment. I had no previous academic training in this area as my undergraduate degree was in law. The skills I gained from the course have been essential for my employment.

Marisa Teuma

Subject of study: Urban and Regional Planning MA
Current employer: Transport for London (TfL)
Current job title: Town Planner

Why did you choose the University of Westminster for your studies?

Westminster was my first choice because of the course’s accreditation by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

How has your career developed since graduating?

Since graduating my career has developed quickly. On completion of the Masters I obtained a role in development management at an inner London local authority where I put into practice the theory and skills I learnt during my Masters. It was a steep learning curve as I learnt the reality of processing and determining planning applications. This role allowed me to fulfil the requirements for my application for Assessment of Professional Competence with the RTPI. After two years I became a chartered town planner and a member of the RTPI. I have since obtained a new job at Transport for London (TfL) in the Planning Consents Team.

What does your current role involve?

My current role at TfL involves working on transport projects to deliver the Mayor’s transport objectives across London. I have been working on the Barclays Cycle Hire Project to obtain planning permission for new Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations across London.

How has your experience at the University of Westminster helped you in your career?

The course focused on a range of topics related to urban and regional planning including international planning, planning law and theory, urban design and sustainable development, which provided a strong basis for my future career in town planning. Of particular relevance were the practical experiences gained through group project work and a field trip. Being in a central London location, the connections the University has with London Boroughs helped my insight into the development of London as a city and my knowledge of planning issues and policies in London.

What has been the highlight of your career or personal achievements to date?

Becoming a Chartered Town Planner was a big highlight for me, providing me with recognition and fulfilment for the work I have undertaken in town planning to date.

Belinda Greenwell

Subject of Study: Urban and Regional Planning MA
Current employer: Savills UK
Current job title: Graduate Planner

Why did you choose the University of Westminster for your studies?

The course had a good reputation among working planners, and the location and structure of the course suited me as I studied part-time whilst juggling childcare.

How has your career developed since graduating?

I finished my course in January 2012, and my daughter was born in February 2012! I started working at Savills in August, and now work part-time, three days per week in a team of planning consultants in Savills’ head office.

What does your current role involve?

I support directors and senior staff working with clients who need our help with negotiating the planning process. I write planning statements, carry out research into policy and planning history, liaise with clients and planning officers, carry out planning appraisals, and coordinate planning applications.

How has your experience at the University of Westminster helped you in your career?

I found the course very vocational, I immediately started working on writing reports just like those we had written as part of the Making and Managing Places module, and I find the broader, bigger picture topics that we covered really relevant to my work now, and give me a good overview when it might be easy to get bogged down in the smaller things! I also found the field trip really interesting especially the encouragement to really look at buildings which helps me a lot now when describing or evaluating proposals.

What has been the highlight of your career or personal achievements to date?

I was a mature student, changing career between having two children, and I managed to get a distinction in my course – I was very proud of that. I feel like I have landed a job in an excellent company and am surrounded by really good planners who really know about their subject, so I’m learning a lot.