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A Day in the Life of a Town Planner at Barker Ryan Stewart: Ben Miller

At Barker Ryan Stewart, we are proud to have a highly motivated and passionate team who work together to help create better infrastructure and developments for our community.

In our ‘day in the life of’ blogs, we aim to showcase the work of our talented team and help you get to know the faces behind our projects a little bit better. This month, we sat down with Ben, one of our Town Planners, to chat a bit more about what he enjoys most about the town planning profession and the broad range of projects he works on at BRS.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what attracted you to becoming a Town Planner?

In my third year of a combined Law and Social Science Degree I had the opportunity to enroll in a town planning subject as an elective. I had not long completed a week’s work experience in a law firm and found planning to be a breath of fresh air. I was always interested in property and development growing up and after marrying these interests with my (brief) foray into legal studies, decided planning could be the career for me.

The diversity in the role of a Town Planner is probably what attracted me to the profession. I enjoy working closely with Architects and Landscape Designers, Civil / Traffic Engineers – the list goes on. Every project is different which makes it difficult to get bored.

What does a typical day in your working life look like?

I work on broad range of projects for BRS that include typical planning and development projects, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Reports, waste management and even transport planning. I try to address any project admin tasks at the beginning of each day which (hopefully) allows the afternoons to be spent writing reports. Other days will be broken up with site inspections, internal team meetings and meetings with current and prospective clients and Councils.

What are some of the projects you have enjoyed working on the most at Barker Ryan Stewart?

Securing recent approvals for two seawalls at Collaroy was enjoyable. Collaroy has been hit badly by two major storm events and it really is a ‘now or never’ scenario for some of the properties impacted on the edge of the dunes.  As a keen beach goer, I was interested to delve into the technical side of coastal engineering in order to provide longer term protection for private property owners.

BRS also assist a number of government agencies with planning services for affordable and social housing. The wait times for social housing are significant and it is nice to be able to play a very small part in addressing the growing need for liveable housing. We are also assisting the Property Industry Foundation (PIF) with planning services for a wonderful development in Surry Hills. PIF seek pro-bono services from development consultants and fundraise to provide housing for the disadvantaged. It’s enjoyable to work with like-minded consultants that are keen to offer their services.

What do you like most about your role and working at Barker Ryan Stewart?

The client base we work with in the BRS planning team is extremely diverse. We work with local and state government agencies, private developers, ‘mum and dad’ developers and not for profit organisations; I appreciate that no two days are the same.

We have a close-knit team at BRS that value the need to maintain a work/ life balance. Rob, our Traffic and Transport Manager, keeps things jovial in the office with his daily joke and banter and there is always a team birthday to celebrate. We don’t take things too seriously and from my experiences, that isn’t always how office environments function.

What is something that surprised you about the planning profession?

I am consistently surprised at how little the community knows about ‘town planning’. So often I’m asked, “what do you actually do?”. Often after trying to (unsuccessfully) explain what I do, the wayward response is usually along the lines of “Council’s done nothing about these roads in years…”. I have a good chuckle and move on – I was always taught to pick your battles.

What would be your advice to anyone looking to become a Town Planner?

Find an interesting development on your local DA tracker and have a read through the Statement of Environmental Effects. The SEE is the core report a Planner is required to prepare and will provide a good outline of the role a Town Planner plays in development. If you have an interest in design, development, the environment or even sustainability, there are a number of different avenues in planning that might just work for you.

Want to get to know our team a bit better?

Check out our other ‘day in the life of’ blogs to learn more about our team.

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