Blog: Shannon Franklin is proud to make a difference
Blog: Proud to make a difference
Shannon Franklin – planning and enforcement officer
I work as a planning and enforcement officer in the development management team and thoroughly enjoy my role. As officers we get to interact with the public at various levels, and shape places and development across wider Shropshire. Whether dealing with a small-scale household extension or large housing applications, the decisions that planning officers make have the opportunity to influence Shropshire residents’ lives for a long time to come, and having a say in that is a real privilege.
A key aspect of my job is dealing within comments from surrounding residents regarding their thoughts on development, and how it could both positively and negatively affect them. Whilst this can pose a challenge at times, within the wider planning team we regularly see examples of officers going out of their way to proactively work with local residents to obtain the best scheme for all involved; whether its onsite meetings to discuss schemes, helping people use the public access system to view plans online, or in some cases changing every single measurement on a plan from metric to imperial. The ability to involve and engage with the public on the decisions on the spaces and places they use is a key reason I moved to a council planning role.
Whilst not every tweak considered necessary by a community can be obtained due to the limitations of planning policy, when we see an example of public engagement working – whether it be through the introduction of desired public footpaths and open spaces in masterplans, or a simple change to the heights and materials in a residential extension – it is very satisfying to know that we were able to provide for communities, whilst enabling development for future generations and residents wishing to improve their homes and ultimately the spaces in which they live their everyday lives. National and local planning policy recognises that ‘sustainable development’ has social, environmental and economic benefits, and striking a balance between these is a key aim of planning officers, regardless of the scale of a scheme.
At all levels officers are always looking at how we can improve the process of both submitting and deciding applications to make things simpler for Shropshire residents, such the use of paperless and streamlined processes for maximum efficiency and new methods of internal working. We also have initiatives such as our design awards and agent forms, which help to answer questions and recognise examples of good development within the county. I personally have had the opportunity to represent Shropshire Council at the Royal Town Planning Institutes Planning Convention, talking about the implications of social media and AI (artificial intelligence) on the future of planning. All of these are examples of how Shropshire Council’s planning team are working to remain ahead of the game in terms of its planning services and the technology we use to ensure smooth delivery of our service.
My role as a planning officer provides continuous and ever-changing challenges, but that’s part of the reason I enjoy the role so much. Every day there’s a new type of application to review, new residents to work with and new opportunities to make a difference within the community I work and live – I for one am up for the challenge!