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blog: Just an average week in the Development Planning team...

Author: Catherine Evans

When I tell people I am a Transport Planner, most people aren’t quite sure what that actually involves. So I thought, what better way to show off my week than to keep a diary and share it with the world.


My Monday starts off by analysing a week’s worth of traffic survey data to understand the current traffic levels on a local highway network. This will help to forecast the impact of a new development to understand if any junctions need to be re-designed or upgraded, so they can accommodate the proposals. After getting lost in excel spreadsheets for the whole morning trying to sort out a flow diagram and queue lengths, my stomach reminds me it’s LUNCHTIME!

The Birmingham office is currently signed up to the West Midlands Combined Authority ‘Thrive at Work’ trial, where we are trying to improve physical and mental health in the office. This has made people think more about their own health and one of the new activities is the lunchtime running club. So, I decided to join them for the first time today. Big mistake. These people are amazing! They. Don’t. Sweat… Chocolate is definitely needed now! 

Birmingham Running Club

I spend the rest of the day programming a microsimulation model to help analyse the future impact of a development on the local highway network, looking at the ins and outs of car simulation. On my way home I walk home past a new shiny salad place and realise this is going to make me feel guilty every day I choose a Gregg's over it.   


I pop into the office first thing to grab a cupcake that has been made by a colleague as part of our Great British Bake Off sweepstake and then head out. I'm off to meet a highway officer at a council where we are working on quite a complicated development. It is a number of in-fill sites trying re-development currently unused space on an estate and therefore doesn’t have a blank canvas of a field to start with. In addition to keeping existing residents happy, we have to ensure the viability of the design for highways, improving the landscaping and encouraging sustainable travel.

Fullers Slade

During the meeting, we talk about the characteristics of the existing estate and the current proposals to improve it. They seem very open to working with me to come up with a solution and leave me with lots of ideas of how we can make these sites work for everyone’s interests. You often find that highways want to get rid of all the trees in favour of car parking spaces, and landscaping wants to get rid of all the car parking spaces in favour of trees - it’s a balancing act trying to keep everyone happy through the planning process. I spend the train journey home eating my cupcake and doing design work to send over to the architects.  


Back to modelling this morning. After a day of multitasking between programming the cars, sorting through the traffic data, and inputting the information into the system, I am starting to get a modelled network that resembles what was observed on the ground. Winning!

This process is calibrating and validating the model to provide a robust base that we can use to understand the future impact. The better the base model, the better we can forecast. This, however, ends up making me watch cars go around a network about 4000 times a day. Although frustrating at times, it’s worth it when we get a nice shiny model to use throughout the consultation process. 


It’s a nice day so I have lunch outside and walk to the newly re-opened Centenary Square and catch up on life with a colleague. Work-related conversations are banned so it’s a good break.

This afternoon we have a team meeting to discuss a bid for a ‘top secret’ project. All I can say is it’s not on this continent, it's a new development across 88.5 acres (approximately the size of Istanbul, Turkey) and includes a brand-new multi-modal transport interchange. Even if we don’t win, the bidding process has been a great exercise for the team. Being such a large project, it requires a lot of collaboration between us all and brings in everyone’s specialities into one project. 


Today I’m heading to London for a project design team meeting, which includes drainage, energy, client, architects, landscape architects, planners, and more. I’m attending to feedback the highways discussions and design updates from the meeting I had with the local council highways officer on Tuesday. 

These meetings are great collaborative and learning experiences. They really give you an insight into different sectors and it’s a long process trying to make everyone’s specialities and agendas work together to provide the best development possible on a good budget. 

Electric Car Charging Png

The development will be net-zero carbon and one of the first to provide 1 electric vehicle charging space per dwelling, so is a really positive and interesting project to be working on. We leave the architects' meeting room on-time today as they are hosting an office yoga session. I love seeing a shift in focus towards mental health within other offices. At least I get home in time to make my team's netball training. 

Friday (FriYAY)

This morning I am up early for a pre-work breakfast networking event. This is a female-focused event which I find a lot more rewarding and comfortable than the normal evening ones. It shows that this very male-dominated industry has some safe spaces for us elusive females and makes it a little less daunting. 1000 croissants and cups of coffee later, I have met some really interesting people and am heading into the office. 

Feeling super productive, the rest of the day consists of finishing some smaller projects. I have a meeting with our engineering lead to discuss amending a proposed access to provide better walking and cycling facilities, finalise a draft Transport Strategy and send to the client for comment, and review refuse tracking and visibility splay drawings and append to a Transport Assessment. I also complete some bespoke trip generation analysis for a holiday park site, and make some pretty maps to show off how sustainable a proposed development site is so we can reduce the car parking need. 

Station Road Waddington Cropped

After a lot of late evenings working this week, an after work pub session definitely well-deserved! The usual weekly transport planning debate entails. This week’s topic is the pros and cons of using drones to provide traffic survey information. Although this was sold to us as the dream by a traffic survey company, unfortunately the reality is that batteries only last 20 minutes maximum... not great for providing a seamless view of a roundabout during the peak hour.

Click here to find out more about what the wider Development Planning Team is involved with at ITP.


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