Fenella Hackney – Senior Planning Officer

Fenella Hackney

I joined the Council as a Trainee Planning Officer in Development Management in 2019. Prior to this I’d completed a degree in law which exposed me to some aspects of the legal system concerning planning and housing. However, after graduating I decided that I wanted to pursue a complete change of career to work in the planning sector itself.

Landing this job was a fantastic opportunity for me as I knew I had an interest in planning and urban design but had no formal training or previous work experience. The Academy Team within Central Bedfordshire is unique from a lot of other graduate planning jobs within a local authority setting because it enabled me to enrol in a fully funded master’s degree which is accredited by the RTPI and receive on the job training whilst studying.

I completed my master’s part-time over 2 years between 2020-2022, by which time I’d been promoted to Senior Planning Officer within the Council. I’m really enjoying my current role as I get to work on more complex and larger-scale developments where I feel as though I can make a genuine positive influence in achieving high quality design to benefit the area.

I could not be more positive about my time spent at Central Bedfordshire so far. There are excellent opportunities for career progression and a strong network of support from managers and through a peer-mentoring scheme. Across the whole of Planning Delivery, there is a clear emphasis on supporting your professional development, whether it be through additional training opportunities, job rotations, through to sponsoring full chartered membership of the RTPI.

Ultimately, my experience of working at Central Bedfordshire has been that it doesn’t matter what your previous knowledge or background is, if you have the passion and the interest, you can take advantage of the opportunities that are available and build the career you want to achieve.