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A Day in the Life of a Town Planner at Barker Ryan Stewart: Leah Reeves

At Barker Ryan Stewart, we’re proud to have a highly motivated and passionate team that works together to deliver infrastructure and create better outcomes for our communities.


In our day in the life of blog series, 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 Leah, one of our Town Planners, to chat a bit more about what led her to a career in planning and the biggest highlight of working at Barker Ryan Stewart so far.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what interested you in town planning.

I have always had an interest in geography, earth sciences and environmental management. I started university with the intention to graduate with an environmental sustainability major, however as I progressed in my degree, I became more interested in development and land use. I ended up graduating with a major in urban and regional development. Following my degree, I went on to complete my graduate diploma to further my knowledge.

Like a lot of teenagers, I also loved Sim City. I potentially developed an unhealthy obsession with the game, spending much of my school holidays playing it and attempting not to see my town fall into a horrible decline. As an adult, I’ve also found myself playing City Skylines, which is a similar concept. Both of these games focus on the underlying basic principles of land use planning, and I would say have influenced my interest in planning and how the world around us works and why.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

My typical workday usually begins with listening to a paranormal or true crime podcast as I travel to our Hunter Office. Once I arrive, I spend some time reading through emails and preparing my day in terms of work to be completed and priority projects. Projects I am involved in typically require report writing including Statement of Environmental Effects, Review of Environmental Factors and Due Diligence Assessments. More recently, I have been completing DA Assessments which has been interesting. Although all of my work is interesting as it is so varied, no two projects are the same and therefore no two reports are the same.  

I will typically spend time discussing projects with Ashlee, our Senior Town Planner in the Hunter Office. I enjoy getting exposure to as many projects the planning team is working on, as each job is different and presents its own complexities and challenges.  

What’s it like being part of Barker Ryan Stewart’s planning team? Are there any stand-out projects that you’re currently working on?

I feel very grateful to be working with the planning team at BRS. Our team is very knowledgeable and also very supportive. The team is very experienced, and I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by such great planners.  

I have been working on the development of a Local Approvals Policy for a Council. The Policy is not my typical project and has presented a number of challenges and learning opportunities. I am excited to see this project to completion and look back on all of our efforts.

What’s been the most memorable aspect of working at Barker Ryan Stewart so far?

I have been with BRS for almost a year, meaning that I have attended one of the annual conferences. It was so great to meet so many other staff from all of our offices, I really enjoyed the social aspect of it and getting to physically meet so many people I had only virtually met!

Looking back at your career, is there anything that’s surprised you about being a Town Planner?

My career in town planning has been a bit bumpy. I worked as a town planner for over four years before having a break for a few years, contemplating if town planning really was the correct avenue for me (I think I went through a bit of a quarter life crisis!) I was approached by Lisa, our Planning Manager, last year who let me know about the opportunity at BRS if I was interested. I had previously worked with Lisa and talking with her made me excited to dip my toes back in the career which I had admittedly been thinking about doing for a while before. I am so glad I returned to the career and am really enjoying being back, especially the diversity of projects. I think that is the most surprising aspect of the job, just how varied roles and jobs can be and really finding a place where you enjoy the types of projects on offer!

Finally, what advice do you have for anyone considering a career in town planning?

Town planning is a really diverse career. It may take you some time to find which avenue suits you the best so don’t give up on it!

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 talented team.

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