How DLA are helping to inspire the next generation of Town Planners and Urban Designers

This week we’re embarking on our biggest technical challenge of lockdown so far. We’ve had DLA staff meetings with 60+ attendees (and thankfully the ability to mute each other) and regular ‘virtual’ meetings with our colleagues, clients and co-consultants since March but we are about to go to another level!

We are hosting a ‘Virtual Work Experience’ programme this week for six university students who we should have been welcoming in person to our office in Milton Keynes. The students will be joining us from Lancaster University, the University of Birmingham and University College London. The plan is to give them a crash course in Planning and Urban Design, with introductory and ‘Toolbox’ talks facilitated by various DLA staff, practical tasks, and regular mentoring sessions.

We know this is a particularly daunting time to be a student who might be graduating now or in the next couple of years and so we’ve been working with our contacts in Planning Schools across the country to see how we might continue to assist them. Over the last academic year, we have facilitated workshops to support university teaching, participated in panel discussions, run skills-based careers workshops and attended careers fairs. We are committed as individuals and as a company to continuing our support for students and universities and have a range of events in the diary for 2020/21.

If you are a student interested in a career in planning or urban design, we have shared our top tips below on how to make the most of any extra time you may currently have, to help you stand out from the crowd and improve your knowledge and understanding:

  1. Keep on top of Planning News – the industry is changing fast at the moment and a free subscription to The Planner is a good way to make sure you are up to speed on current issues.
  2. Follow makers and shakers on social media – DLA’s LinkedIn account is full of opinion pieces and following organisations such as the RTPI and TCPA can help you gain insights into topical issues.
  3. Continue Learning – there is a huge amount of free online CPD available – you will certainly impress recruiters if you have been studying extra planning law and can talk about it.
  4. Work on your Portfolio – if you are an urban designer, your portfolio is your way to demonstrate skills to potential employers and you’ll thank yourself when you’re applying for jobs if you spend a bit of extra time on it now.
  5. Work Experience – a placement may be difficult to secure at the moment but there are opportunities for virtual placements, or you could look to secure a placement once the workplace is back to a new normal.

If you are a student interested in a career in urban design or planning, get in touch to apply for our next Virtual Work Experience programme by sending your CV and Covering Letter (telling us why you’d like to be involved) to Roz at

Alternatively, if you are part of a University or a student who we are not currently in touch with, contact Greg Pearce (, Gaby Medforth (, Colette Portway ( or me ( to discuss how we might be able to assist you.