James Davies

MSc Planning Practice and Research (2008)
Current Job: 
Planner and Case Manager, Planning Aid Wales

Why did you choose Cardiff University as a place to study?

I was living and working in Swansea at the time, and Cardiff was the nearest Planning School. It was a bonus to find out that the school had a great reputation in the planning community!

What was the best thing about your time as a student at Cardiff?

Doing a course part-time whilst working full time meant that I didn’t really get the full ‘student’ experience whilst studying at Cardiff, but I did get great support from the lecturing staff and there is a really good CPLAN society who runs regular social events.

What thing or person inspired you most whilst you were a Cardiff University student?

I was particularly inspired by one of my first lecturers at Cardiff, Huw Thomas, who taught the Nature of Planning Theory module. This course and Huw’s approach to teaching really opened my eyes to the context and philosophy of planning in an academic context, which was distinctly different from the practical day-to-day working experience of being a planner.

What one thing would you tell someone else about the School of Planning and Geography at Cardiff?

The CPLAN lecturing staff are engaging, inspiring and challenging! They provide a really friendly and welcoming environment for new students and are much more approachable than they look!

How did your degree most help you in the career or job you have now chosen?

Having worked previously as a development control planner, the course really opened my eyes to the proactive approach planning can take to community development. The course also set a far wider context on the planning system as a whole, which is often difficult to obtain working in a particular field of planning.

Tell us a bit about your current job, how you got into what you are doing and what you enjoy about it most.

My job as Planner and Case Manager for Planning Aid Wales is dynamic, diverse and a real breath of fresh air! I am responsible for managing a network of planner-volunteers who give up some of their free time to help members of the public understand and better engage with the planning process. I also get involved in a whole host of activities relating to the development of a small charity, such as marketing, fundraising, and website development, as well as providing training to community groups on the planning system.

What opportunities do you feel have opened up to you as a result of being a student at the Cardiff School of Planning and Geography?

Having an undergraduate degree in Geography, a planning qualification was vital for me in order to work towards full membership of the RTPI and progress my career. However, during my time at Cardiff, I developed professional relationships with members of CPLAN staff which have proved enormously useful during the early part of my career.

Tell us any interesting facts about yourself, hobbies or interests that you have.

Outside of my day to day work I am involved with a variety of Planning-related activities. I serve as a student representative on the RTPI Cymru Management Board and have recently co-founded Young Planners Cymru, which is a network that runs training, support and social events for young planners across Wales. In my free time, I play bass guitar in a rock band!