22 | Midlands Enterprise Awards 2020 Sep20629 Best Multi-Disciplinary Town Planning Practice 2020 Established in 1988, the Planning arm of Woods Hardwick is a resourceful consultancy working with developers, land promoters, house builders, property and landowners across the UK. As part of the Woods Hardwick Group, one of the UK’s leading multidisciplinary practices specialising in the built environment, the planning team delivers successful outcomes from the town planning process. Their planners offer a comprehensive selection of services, including planning application co-ordination, environmental impact assessment co-ordination, community engagement and consultation, resolution of enforcement issues and much more besides. Combining expertise and deep industry knowledge, Woods Hardwick is able to deliver thoughtful, commercial and unique services that are designed to be as beneficial to the client as possible. As a comprehensive provider of services in architecture, engineering, planning and surveying, the firm boasts insights into the challenges faced by all aspects of the built environment. Through close collaboration across these specialisms, Woods Hardwick is able to present innovative solutions to such challenges. The company has cultivated a people-centric culture that builds the positive relationships which are vital to success. Creativity, learning and personal development are encouraged, particularly through organised social events such as team dinners or football tournaments. Along with an office in Bedford, Woods Hardwick has been based in Birmingham’s Fort Dunlop for 4 years now and has recently taken new dedicated open-plan space on the ground floor of the building to encourage the growth of working relationships across departments, while initiatives such as away days have contributed to a positive team dynamic. As a result, Woods Hardwick attracts and retains some of the best in the industry, looking out for those who align with the company ethos of delivering thoughtful, commercial and unique environmental services as a capable and resilient team. One of the newest appointments is Paul Woods, who has taken on the role as Planning Director to lead business growth in the Midlands. Paul has more than 30 years’ experience of town planning in the public and private sectors, having formerly been Managing Director of Edge 4 Planning and Head of Infrastructure Planning at GL Hearn, part of Capita Plc. Paul’s knowledge of large-scale planning and development projects will hold him in good stead as he leads Woods Hardwick to grow in the Midlands market. Indeed, there are three predominant matters in the industry that Woods Hardwick is currently considering when working with clients and colleagues. First is the publication in September 2020 of the Government’s White Paper on proposed reforms of the planning system in England, which sets out a root and branch review and change to the current system of plan making and development management. The Government has also recently introduced a raft of changes to increase the flexibility in the housing development system, an idea that has sparked debate and in respect of which the planning team is well equipped to advise. Second is the effects of the online shopping boom, which have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, on town centre planning, as retailers require less physical shop space and offices are being replaced by working-from-home arrangements. However, initiatives to promote alternative uses for these spaces are being led by organisations like Woods Hardwick, while other bodies are investing in town centre recovery plans. Finally, the development industry is prioritising tackling climate change. The West Midlands Combined Authority Zero Carbon Homes Taskforce will support the region’s fight against climate change, making sure that all new homes meet tough zero carbon standards from 2025 onwards with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2041. In the Midlands itself, increasing connectivity due to investment in transport infrastructure is requiring careful planning processes to support regional growth. As an example of this growth potential, the Midlands Engine published a report in September describing how the Midlands is ideally placed to spearhead the Government’s vision of a stronger and greener economy. To achieve sustainable growth will require capitalising on partnerships, research, leadership and innovation which already exists across the Midlands. Woods Hardwick is leveraging its strong network across the Midlands to support local and national clients in development projects such as the afore mentioned. In addition, the firm is now looking to grow their own team following the move into new accommodation at Fort Dunlop. Woods Hardwick has laid the foundations for expansion, embarking on a new marketing drive to serve existing and new clients. As a result, it is an exciting period for Woods Hardwick as they contribute to ambitious plans for notable developments across the Midlands. Contact: Paul Woods Company: Woods Hardwick Web Address: www.woodshardwick.com Woods Hardwick is one of the UK’s leading multidisciplinary consultancies specialising in the built environment. Woods Hardwick combines industry knowledge and years of expertise to deliver conscientious, commercial built environment services. With the recent addition of a new office and Planning Director, Woods Hardwick is now entering an exciting phase of evolution.