Jonathan Coombs

BSc Geography (Human) and Planning (2006); MSc Planning Practice and Research (2008)
Current Job: 
Planning Officer, Bristol City Council

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

A combination of arguably the most highly rated planning department in the country with the the university's location.  The department is a five minute walk from the city centre and Cardiff is a fantastic place to live, great shops, cinemas, clubs, parks, etc.

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

Getting to meet a wide range of people, many of which became good friends or even my current girlfriend of over 5 years.

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

I know it sounds negative, but none, as I motivate myself. There were however a number of very helpful staff in the school who were very helpful (particularly the reception staff) and helped make topics interesting through their enthusiasm for the subject.

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

It is one of the most highly regarded university planning departments in the UK.

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

It helped provide the necessary qualification in order to get my job.

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

I currently work as a planning officer within the Major Scheme Co-ordination Team in the Development Control Service at Bristol City Council.  This was a natural progression from my Masters subject and was the third job I applied for after narrowly missing out on the first position I applied for.
My workload consists of dealing with a variety of planning applications from minor householder extensions to major commercial developments, as well as assisting senior officers with super major applications (over 100 residential units or 10,000 sq m of commercial development) and managing the post-decision discharge of conditions on super major schemes.  This draws on report writing, negotiation, team work, presentation, project management and other skill sets, which my undergraduate degree and masters helped develop.
I enjoy the variety of the work.  As well as working at a computer I also regularly conduct site visits and meet with other related professionals or members of the public.  I undertake regular training and continued professional development as it is a profession where yoiu can never stop learning.  The profession is also constantly evolving, presenting new cahllenges, with each application always offering something different.

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?

My MSc provided me with a good basis for entering the job market, as it acted as a RTPI recognised qualification and well regarded university for this subject, which probably gave me a boost over other applicants.  My undergraduate course also informed potential employers that I did not casually arrive at my chosen profession, particularly as it opened doors to gain relevant experience through short-term summer employment. 

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

Enjoy hiking (Cardiff rambling club was full of great people), films (was president of the film society) and running.