In what is proving to be one of the most exciting times in the firm’s history, Smith Jenkins Town Planning in Milton Keynes has opened a London office. In conjunction with the move into the capital, the firm has also introduced an in-house heritage team.
Now rebranded as Smith Jenkins Planning & Heritage, the consultancy is well placed to assist on all types of development projects in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and beyond. With a team of highly knowledgeable town planners, the firm has one of the largest development management focused teams in the region.
The changes reflect the growth of the company, which was launched in 2012, and has worked hard to build a reputation for excellence and become the go-to planning consultancy in Milton Keynes. Services offered include a full range of town planning services including planning appraisals and applications, community consultation and permitted development and prior approval matters. Recent projects have included the new combined school for Glebe Farm, Wavendon; Red Bull Racing Technology Campus, Tilbrook; advising landowners on South East Milton Keynes land allocation; and new drive-thru restaurants at Stadium MK.
Jennifer Smith, Director, said: “We’ve focused very strongly on business development over the past 18 months, and remained very busy during the pandemic. Our clients include individuals, parish councils and the MK Development Partnership and our local knowledge has been key to our success.
“The team has grown to 18 town planners. This includes the introduction of the heritage team, which will be based in our new London office to support the growth of the business there, but which will also service
The new team of three heritage specialists will be headed up by Paul Crisp, who joins from Jones Lang LaSalle. The team’s role will be to advise on all aspects of a development that affect an area’s heritage. Whether that is listed buildings or conservation areas, it’s vitally important to understand the history of a site and ensure that heritage aspects are respected and where appropriate, introduced into a new project to reflect the past.
“At the start of project we will go out and identify what buildings or areas we need to consider and how we can work with architects and planners to respond to heritage,” explained Paul.
“We work on projects with clients from private individuals up to large-scale developments, focusing on understanding the significant features of an area and making sure they are not lost. It’s an interesting and fascinating job, a lot of it involves making ourselves aware of the history of a site, and it is very rewarding to be a part of protecting our heritage.
“Often, we find ourselves in country houses or estates that you’d normally find yourself visiting during your time off, not during working hours, so it’s an absolute privilege to be part of that.
“We also support clients buying listed buildings, firstly to check no work has already been done that doesn’t have consent – which is illegal and can cause issues down the line for the new owners, or to advise on their future plans for the building, so that they can proceed with their purchase with full knowledge of their future house.”
The heritage team prides itself on giving clients as much knowledge as they need before they take on a listed building, with the focus on finding solutions and helping clients find a way to make things work, rather than being put off.
“We have a duty to protect our heritage and keep buildings in active use and in good condition so that they are preserved for future generations,” said Paul. “Similarly, there’s a greater awareness of communities now, and how we can’t just go in and gentrify a whole area and price people out. If we make sure we involve a community and take them along with us as the project is developed, and get their support, we ensure a better outcome for everyone.”
Jennifer Smith added: “Our approach has always been pragmatic planning solutions that put clients first and our expansion into London and into the heritage sector allows us to further meet clients’ needs with positive and honest advice.”
To find out more, visit the Smith Jenkins website here.