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Mark Cullen

Principal Planner

“Alder King encourages you to pursue your own areas of interest and expertise – it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of working here.”

I joined Alder King nine years ago as a graduate planner after completing my Masters in Town & Country Planning.  Within three years I had completed my APC and achieved RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute) accreditation. After qualifying, I was promoted to senior planner and then to principal planner in 2018. I now work as part of a planning consultancy team of 12 in our Bristol office.

We’re a very tight-knit team with a great team dynamic. There’s a clear crossover between planning and other disciplines, so we’re able to feed into other teams and offer help and advice when it’s needed. This ‘outreach’ approach means we regularly engage with our regional offices.

In addition to my planning work on residential and commercial development, I’ve developed a speciality in renewable energy, specifically ground-mounted solar power projects.  In more recent years, I’ve worked on other energy streams such as battery storage projects as well as exploring innovative areas such as electric vehicle forecourt charging.  Green technologies like solar are taking on an increasing share of the energy mix – they play a vital role in an integrated infrastructure, alongside more traditional technologies such as gas-fired generation.

I’ve become something of the ‘go to’ specialist in planning for renewable energy projects around the UK.

I work closely with developers, landowners, councils and other specialists in our energy team to help secure planning consent for these and other power generation schemes, which can all be challenging in terms of environmental and other constraints.

Forming strong and trusting relationships – with both clients and colleagues – is central to the way Alder King operates. The firm has a strong ethos of collaborative, multi-disciplinary working between offices and disciplines, and you’re encouraged to share skills and experiences with fellow employees.

Alder King is very supportive in terms of career development and encourages you to pursue your own areas of interest and expertise – it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of working here. There’s a strong focus on keeping skills and knowledge up to date and providing people with the opportunity to succeed. If you work hard and have the talent and dedication, you’ll reap the rewards.

It’s a friendly, open environment, where you can express an opinion and it’s genuinely respected and listened to. There’s also a good work-life balance, with organised after-hours activities and social, fundraising and charity events throughout the year. It’s a great way of getting together with colleagues, sometimes to support a worthy cause, sometimes just for fun.

We have a very accessible management culture, and it’s easy to knock on a door and ask advice from partners and other colleagues – you never know everything, so it’s really helpful to be able to ‘bounce off’ each other. At the end of the day, we’re all here to give our clients the best possible level of service. That’s the message I’ve heard repeated many times; and in my experience, we try and make it happen.

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