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Surveyor Stories - Eleni Randle FRICS FAAV MRTPI



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Who is this Surveyor Story about?


Eleni Randle FRICS FAAV MRTPI is a Planner, Surveyor and Valuer with her own businesses; Eldnar Consultancy (Eldnar Ltd) and The Equestrian Planning Consultancy.


In today's Surveyor Story, she tells us more about her story in her own words. See if this inspires you to follow your own surveying, valuation or planning journey!


Why did you become dual qualified?


Following passing my APC, and thus qualifying as a chartered surveyor, I moved from the public sector (managing County Council Farms as part of the County Council Farm Estate) into the private sector, where the company I worked for had no real planning expertise.  As part of my work on the County Farms Estate, I had been responsible for implementing a capital budget to ensure appropriate facilities and infrastructure were in place on tenanted dairy farms to manage slurry in accordance with the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone regulations which had just come into force at the time.  This, of course, had required a lot of planning preparation work and work with the County Council Planners to secure the appropriate permissions prior to construction on the farms. 


Once I moved away from this role, and into private practice, I was therefore asked to continue doing planning work which, back then, was more simple in nature relating to mainly farm building and general rural planning work. 


At the same time as this, a prominent planning consultant in the area was working towards retirement and the firm in question had an arrangement which sought to help manage his retirement process as he reduced his workload.  As part of this, I started to take on more planning work, under his guidance, and worked on more contentious and interesting rural planning cases including, for example, an application for a new abattoir, which caused quite a lot of local speculation.  I was able to gain a wide range of experience working with people in the planning profession, and I found it really interesting.


A year later, I decided to move back home to Worcestershire, from Staffordshire, and I started work with another small private practice who had no planning expertise at all.  From this point, I became “the planning lady” and ended up involved in all sorts of urban and rural planning for the existing client base.  At the point my workload reached around 60% - 70% planning and development work, and working towards being a partner, it made me think about how I could ultimately prove my competence in this profession to both prospective clients but, also, to professional indemnity insurers if in the event I was ever challenged through either a complaint or claim made. 


Unfortunately, we do live and work in a profession where such occurrences could happen so, aside from maintaining up to date CPD relating to the planning profession, I looked at ways I could formally qualify based upon the experience I had to date.  At around the same time, I had attended an RTPI event and spoken to someone from the RTPI who had asked me whether I would be interested in following a new route to qualification, which had then just been launched, which was an experienced based route, initially involving becoming AssocRTPI.  I undertook this route, and following the required timescales after this and submission of the relevant documents, applied to top-up so to speak and eventually became a Chartered Town Planner in early 2018.  

 

What do you enjoy most about working in the field of planning?


The field of planning is constantly evolving and changing and it is a fast paced environment which requires you to stay up to date.  I am strongly of the opinion that you either do planning or don’t do planning, and it is certainly something which cannot be dabbled in due to the constantly changing rules and material considerations which impact with the planning system. 


The policy which we apply to sites, within local plans, can change from site to site within a single Council, and indeed the policy could change over the space of 12 months depending on emerging plans and 5 Year Housing Land Supplies, for example.  Despite this, I do enjoy the fact that you can get involved in very technical, policy and case law, based arguments which can be very satisfying when the correct outcome is achieved. 


Quite simply you can know a set of rules, inside out, and apply it to differing sites which in turn enables you to become very good within your profession, but the variety of sites keeps it interesting with no two days being the same.

 

Why did you start your own business?


At my previous firm, after two years, I was invited to become an equity partner, and I fulfilled this role for 3 years.  I was the youngest, and only female, partner within that partnership and ultimately our objectives and ideas for the direction of the business could not realistically be much more polar opposite. 


For me, the age gap between myself and other partners was, in hindsight, too much, and the only way I could realistically do work in the manner which I wished to on behalf of clients was to start my own business.  As a result of this, I handed my notice in, worked a very long notice period as well as working through a non-competition clause, before setting up on my own in 2019.

 

What do you like doing when you are not working as a planning professional?


Outside of work I like to be active and spend a lot of time outdoors.  My family have had horses for most of my life and, whilst I don’t get chance to ride much these days, I enjoy going to see my childhood pony (Tilly) who I have now owned for 23 years, so she is still going strong as a field ornament. 


My partner and I have 3 dogs, two huskies and a cocker spaniel, who keep us very active with their individual characters which enables us to get out and walk to lots of interesting places.  I am fortunate enough, being located in north Worcestershire, to be close to some beautiful rural areas such as the Wyre Forest. 


I am also a regular attendee, with questionable ability, at CrossFit and Hyrox classes with Cross Fit Wyre Forest.

 

What advice or tips would you give to aspiring planners?


My advice would be the same to aspiring planners and surveyors in that you should be aware that you will never stop learning, whether you have just graduated or whether you have been in practice for 40 years.  The day you think that you know it all is effectively the end of your career as you will get left behind. 


I would say it is important to build relationships within the profession, not to burn bridges and not be afraid to ask for assistance if you get stuck.  If you can stay humble, work hard and not let the bad days get on top of you, you will have a rewarding career which will continually evolve, and no two days will be the same.

 

 

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Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.


N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.

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