Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Adam Ralton BA Geography, 2007

Planning Officer

Adam Ralton's Photo

Hi, I'm Adam Ralton and I studied BA Geography within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton.

The fact that you can walk to most areas of the city, and the efficiency of the unilink bus service, are great bonuses. It made visiting different parts of the city, and visiting friends living in different areas easy

What is your current job role?

I work as a Planning Officer in the Planning Department of a London Council. The Planning Service is involved with a number of activities - it looks into social, economic and cultural changes happening and predicted to happen over time, and aims to plan for sufficient homes, offices and services to be available for people. It deals with the funding of local services, with extensions to buildings and construction of new buildings, and with the preservation of the historic and natural environment.

What are the main skills required in your job?

I work within Development Management, which involves processing Planning Applications. The information submitted by applicants setting out what they want to do has to be assessed against local and national policies setting out what they may be able to do, and against whether what they want to do would be harmful to the appearance of the area or to neighbours.

How did you geography degree help with your career?

Geography degrees cover a seemingly dauntingly wide variety of subjects. The ability to draw links between these subjects is important in forming a holistic view of what is going on. Planning is similar - as a planner I have to take into account the appearance of development, the economic impacts of development, and the needs of applicants, and balance them against the expert advice from ecology/contaminated land/noise/lighting experts, highways engineers, also taking into account local and national planning policies. Geography prepared me for managing all the different viewpoints. It is necessary to know a little (at least) about a lot, and balance the facts and the requirements of all involved. Written reports are central to planning, as you have to be able to set out your argument for or against a proposal in detail, and in a robust way, ensuring that everything is taken into account.

What advice would you give our undergraduates who are interested in a similar occupation?

Written and verbal communication skills are essential, so do anything you can to get experience of these. Human and Physical Geography both play their part, the key is to be able to read, digest, summarise and construct an argument. An interest in the formation and development of the built environment, and the history and preservation of villages, towns and cities, would be beneficial. Experience in the public or private sector, whilst possibly hard to come by, would be beneficial. All planning applications are dealt with by the public sector (Local Councils) and in my opinion experience of how planning works in the public sector is essential.

What was your overall experience at Southampton like?

My experience at Southampton was fantastic, it’s a great city and I still enjoy returning to see the changes on the campus and the changes in Portswood and the city centre. The fact that you can walk to most areas of the city, and the efficiency of the unilink bus service, are great bonuses. It made visiting different parts of the city, and visiting friends living in different areas easy. On the social side I was a member of Geogsoc and played for their Hockey team. The society was renowned by all my non-geographer friends as having the best socials and the best fun, and their events were a great way to meet course mates and true friends. I also met my girlfriend on a Geogsoc social.

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×