LRM 5 years young
In September 2013 LRM first opened its doors (although those that have followed the journey will recall its first incarnation as LMA). We have now reached 5 years of trading which brings with it a period of reflection: to think about what was good, what didn’t work so well, what might have been better and what we can learn from our experiences.
First and foremost; the first 5 years have exceeded the initial business objectives.
From a sole practitioner with a small but loyal client base, we have grown to two offices and eight members of staff. Each addition has made an important contribution to the practice.
We are now one of the leading planning consultancies working in South Wales. Our client base has grown dramatically over the 5 years and we are proud of the number of times we have been recommended to new clients to join their project teams. We have developed our relationship with Housing Associations and are especially pleased to be involved in such important and genuinely exciting development opportunities.
Our Exeter office opened earlier than our business plan anticipated. The opportunity presented itself and we felt confident to make the investment. It’s been a success and has strengthened our ability to service clients in that area. We already had a strong presence in Devon and Cornwall, but the opportunities that have arisen have been more diverse than we could have expected. Our priority is to still deliver for existing clients, however, through nurturing and investment, our decision to launch Exeter early will continue to be a sound one.
But our work extends far beyond Wales and the West Country. We are involved in a great many projects in the south east and east of England, as well as into the Midlands. As the old adage goes “we go where we are asked to!”
Our work has also been recognised through awards, including Building for Life 12 Outstanding and we see this as an important reflection of what we want the practice to be; current and exemplar. A number of other existing schemes could replicate, if not better these achievements.
The highlights are many and diverse; but we’d like to draw attention to some notable examples:
The Northcliffe planning permission, occupying a landmark location on the Penarth escarpment overlooking Cardiff Bay and the Bristol Channel. The need to deal with complex issues, political, design, conservation and viability, illustrated the many competences our team has and what can be achieved with a ‘can do’ attitude from an Applicant and the consultant team.
The adoption of the Gloucester Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy was another significant milestone, with two strategic sites which we have been promoting being allocated.
Our work for student accommodation providers continues. Work on Quintana Gate, Exeter has commenced and planning permission for the adjoining site has also been granted. The Neighbourhood in Cardiff opened, whilst an extension to increase the number of storeys was also recently permitted.
The energy from waste scheme at Godstone has taken another important step forward, having been identified in both emerging waste plan and local plan. This coming year will see this longstanding project move forward in earnest.
We have also been instructed to assist in the preparation of two Neighbourhood Plans, in Devon and Cornwall. This illustrates the breadth of experience and ability we now have as part of the practice.
Our housing portfolio includes the promotion of some 20,000 new homes either through the development management process or development plan promotion.
What we are most pleased about is that we have been able to support a student planner who first joined as part of a summer placement and was then able to carry on part time while completing an MSc and has now joined full time. We all benefited from the opportunities we were given early in our careers and want to make sure the next generation of planners have the same opportunities. We are committed to providing a structured learning programme along with ‘on the job’ experience.
These are just some of the many things that are good about LRM and we are grateful of the opportunities we are provided by clients, colleagues and friends.
As with all businesses there are those quirky issues which challenge us, but that is all part of learning and growing and becoming better as a business and as people.
And as we look to the next 5 years and beyond, we are convinced that the foundations laid down so far will support our continued success and development.