Mark Godson on 15 Years at SF Planning

SF Planning Limited Staff Mark Godson

Mark Godson on 15 Years at SF Planning: From a desk in a converted garage to a consistently growing team and three locations. Company Director, Mark Godson reflects on personal and professional milestones as he celebrates 15 years at SF Planning.

Career Beginnings

Mark started his career in local government, firstly in the planning department at Cotswold District Council, and then moving to a position as Senior Planning Officer at Cheltenham Borough Council. Mark recognises his 10 years working at local authorities as ‘invaluable’ in his development as a planner.

Mark’s interest in planning began and developed during his time at the University of Southampton when town planning presented itself as a possible career through a module called Rural Planning.

When asked if there were ever alternative career options, or aspirations, Marks’ not convinced there were. He does however recognise that the analytical and enquiring mind required to be a planner would be transferrable for a number of different professions.

Growing a career and a Business

When Mark joined SF Planning in 2008, Managing Director, Simon Firkins was working as a single contractor from an office in his garden.

“I basically did the same as Simon for the first year or so; worked from home (and converted our garage to an office to help with that).  It was just Simon and myself, we didn’t have a website, no real branding, but plenty of work to do.”

There’s much be proud of in the 15 years that have followed. Personal achievements include building the consultancy’s first website (after teaching himself how to) as part of developing a brand for SF Planning.  As the business grew, effective IT systems were needed and Mark has overseen their implementation and adoption as well as opening and developing the Gloucester Office. Mark is now a shareholder and frequently references the fantastic client base that SF planning works with and working with a team of “really lovely people”

“We have all built up a fantastic team here at SF Planning, not just in relation to colleagues, but also our clients, and the other consultants that we regularly work with.”

Memorable Moments

The 2015 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards stand out as a really memorable moment for Mark.  SF Planning was nominated for the Small Planning Consultancy of the Year of award.

“It was a fun/late night in London. Having to go immediately into a Local Plan Examination after stepping off a coach back to Cheltenham the following morning isn’t an experience I wish to repeat!”

Outside of work, Mark is a devoted Dad to Isabella and Samuel and describes raising them as his proudest achievement.

“Isabella was born roughly a month after I joined SF Planning, and Samuel came along just under two years later.  They are amazing, and I am very proud of them.”

The Future for Planning?

In the planning profession in general, Mark cites the biggest change in the past decade and a half as being “The shift towards the dominance of each council needing to have and maintain a suitable supply of housing as it relates to decision taking.”

And looking forward to the next 10-15 years?

“Perhaps there will be a shift back towards the primacy of the development plan based on the current National Planning Policy Framework consultation (referring to a raft of policy consultations and changes at the time of writing)…Or, will there be another U-turn?!”

It’s clear that Mark is not immune to the day-to-day frustrations faced by planning professionals. “Uncertainty’” and “delay” are frequent barriers to effective and efficient planning. That said, the positives of life as a Planning Consultant at SF Planning are significant for him.

“I’m passionate about the difference we make. We work with some fantastic clients, and making a difference to either the companies they work for, or even better, having a dramatic impact on their personal circumstances provides a large element of job satisfaction.”

“It has also been great to see the development of our staff over the years.  We now have an extremely strong team, but witnessing and assisting with the growth and knowledge of our younger team members is really enjoyable to be part of.”

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