Urban and Regional Planning Personal Statement
"Without creative planning, we shall not be able to conserve resources, provide social amenities, and achieve an environment conducive to good health" (G.C. Unaegbu). Arguably, with world population increase and oil reserve depletion, ameliorating social deprivation within urban environments is becoming ever more crucial.
Growing up in a car-free household has developed my interest in urban design and layout, particularly in public transport. The integrated systems of cities such as London are fascinating in how they entice the masses out of their cars, providing extensive routes all over the city; thus I am keen to learn more about this aspect of planning. In addition, I have a keen interest in regeneration, fuelled initially by a GCSE Geography project on the renewal of El Raval, Barcelona. Moreover, I find the idea of "catalyst developments", explored in "The Big Town Plan" (Channel 4) in regenerating Castleford amazing. The power of a single project such as a bridge, to revitalise a district is incredible; something I would like to be involved with.
A week's work experience at East Herts District Council reinforced my ambition. I worked with members of the Development Control team and was especially interested by a site visit to a controversial wind farm proposal in Benington. Attending a meeting to discuss the application I observed the various parties that must be contacted, legislation and policy aims needing consultation as well as case studies, green belt and ecological issues to consider. Furthermore, in the Planning Enforcement Department I was shown various cases ranging from untidy gardens to whole developments built without permission; the dedication and commitment of the planners enticing me further to this subject, whilst the Planning Policy sector introduced me to the GIS system and increased my knowledge of local planning aims.
Studying Geography and Economics, has helped me to understand the reasons behind many local planning decisions, whilst Religious Studies has shown me the ethics of such decisions. The concept of New Towns stemming from lost housing stock after WW2, explains the functional style of towns such as Stevenage, whilst Ebenezer Howard's "third alternative" with "all the advantages of town life, all the beauty of the country." explains the design of Letchworth and Welwyn Garden Cities. The pressure put upon The New Town Act arguably created many commuter towns, lacking the self-sufficiency of their design. Working with such economic, political and moral pressures in real life situations makes planning all the more compelling.
During the Haileybury College Model United Nations, I represented Bolivia in the economic and social committee. This enabled me to explore some of the problems facing the world's poorest countries, and begin to recognise the pivotal role planning could play in development; using planning to prevent urban sprawl. I enjoyed representing a country that was in contrast to the UK, through lobbying resolutions. In this I gained a great deal of confidence and a greater appreciation for the complicated decisions being made throughout the world. This has been aided by volunteering in a local Oxfam bookshop which has enabled me to meet new people of different ages and backgrounds, giving me the responsibility and experience of running a shop with just one other volunteer.
I believe my self motivation, organisation and desire to improve the places people live and work attracts me to this course, whilst the geographic, numerical and economic skills I have gained over my A Level courses give me a strong grounding in the skills that a planner needs.
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