Come and meet the team at Planning Direct!

Since 2012, Planning Direct has attracted the best staff by offering a challenging but relaxed working environment. Our employees receive excellent pay, pension, holiday, flexi-time, flexi-working and numerous other benefits.

Over time, we’ve created a diverse team with a wide range of skills and experience. All members of our team possess excellent logical reasoning skills, communication skills and the ability to find creative solutions to challenging problems.

If you think you’d fit in, please get in touch. Your character and skillset are more important to us than your qualifications or experience!

Meet the team at Planning Direct

Andrew Cann B.A. (Hons) MCILT APM, Director

Andrew studied Geography at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) before starting a long career in the corporate world. His role involved securing major planning consents for international investment holding company, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in planning, transport planning, shipping, rail construction, operations, logistics, procurement, I.T. and Local and National Government. 

Over the width and breadth of his career, Andrew has developed an unrivalled understanding of the planning system from both sides of the divide (the private and the public sector). He has given expert evidence in a number of public forums, including the House of Lords.

Andrew founded Planning Direct in 2012, having recognised a gap in the market for a planning consultancy with customer service and care at its heart. His first major win led him to be called ‘The man who beat Tesco’.

Andrew is an avid Formula One fan, aspiring sailor and foodie. 

Andrew oversees all aspects of the business and deals with new enquiries. Need assistance with a new planning project? Click the button below to send us an enquiry. Our initial advice is always free.

Steve Miller DipTP MRTPI, Principal Planning Consultant

With over 40 years’ experience in all aspects of planning, Steve has seen and done it all. Steve has been involved in countless major planning cases, including various Public Inquiries, presentations to Planning Committees and attendances at High Court. 

Before joining Planning Direct in 2016, Steve was Head of Planning at Ipswich Borough Council.

Steve specialises in complex appeal and enforcement cases. Recently, he managed to overturn a local council’s refusal of 5 new houses on an agricultural field in the Essex Green Belt.

A long-standing member of the RTPI, Steve is also a Maurice Hellier Award Winner, having been the highest achieving student in his cohort.

On the weekends, Steve loves to sail and is a member of the Pin Mill Sailing Club.

Are you facing enforcement action? As our resident enforcement expert, Steve is the best person to speak to. Click the button below to find out more about dealing with planning enforcement.

Nikki O’Hagan B.A. (Hons), Head of Planning Appeals, Heritage, Policy and Media

Nikki has a lifelong passion for writing, literature and linguistics. She spent a good portion of her early childhood in the local library.

Having grown up in Milton Keynes, she moved to Southampton to study French at the University before landing in Ipswich. Following completion of her award-winning degree, she spent a few years working as a supervisor in various busy town centre pubs, also enjoying a brief stint bartending in Paris.

Nikki joined Planning Direct in 2017, where she rapidly progressed to management. She is involved in all aspects of the business, although she specialises in heritage, appeals work and policy.

Nikki is also responsible for the business’s website and social media content. In recognition of her efforts in this area, Nikki was promoted to head of media in 2024.

Nikki has recently been working on a Neighbourhood Plan for a rural parish in Essex.

One of her recent heritage appeal wins – concerning various alterations to a Grade II* listed building in Islington – is currently under construction and she is looking forward to seeing the results.

In her spare time, Nikki can usually be found walking (or otherwise pandering to) her dog, Rudy. Rudy loves to spend time at the office, especially when new people are about.

Nikki is the best person to speak to if you require assistance with a planning appeal, heritage case or public planning document. Click the button below to find out more about planning appeals.

Jamie Cann B.A. (Hons), Head of Planning Applications

Jamie was born in Ipswich and lived in the county of Suffolk for 40 years before moving to the Norwich area with his wife and family where he currently lives.

Having worked in the development departments of various housing associations for the majority of his working life thus far, Jamie is pleased to have been able to contribute towards improving and expanding the stock of affordable housing within the UK for the benefit of the community.

Heading up the planning applications team at Planning Direct, Jamie is responsible for preparing, submitting and managing all types of planning applications on behalf of his client base and has worked for Planning Direct since 2016. 

Over his career, Jamie has secured planning permission for thousands of new homes, including multiple new housing schemes outside of settlement boundaries and in the open countryside.

Much to our client’s satisfaction, Jamie’s recent dedication to one challenging enforcement case caused the local council to withdraw their enforcement notice and pay our client’s costs.

Jamie is a keen football fan and is probably one of only a few people within the Norfolk area to support Ipswich Town Football Club. He has previously represented his former county, Suffolk, at pool and is also an avid snooker player, having once defeated a reigning world champion.

Jamie is the best person to speak to if you require assistance with a planning application. Click the button below to find out more about planning applications.

Elise Colombel, Senior Planning Consultant

Elise was born and raised in France where she gained a degree in history from the prestigious Sorbonne University.

She first visited Ipswich as part of a student exchange programme, returning nearly 10 years later to live here permanently. Much of her early career was spent in the hospitality industry where she progressed to front of house manager for a very well-reputed local restaurant. Elise then moved into the property management industry before stepping over to planning.

She joined Planning Direct in 2019 and works predominantly on planning applications. Due in no small part to her hospitality background, Elise has exceptional customer service and communication skills which are appreciated by clients and council officers alike.

Since 2019, Elise has used these skills to secure planning permission for a variety of complex and contentious planning developments, including HMOs, hot food takeaways, pet services and new houses.

Elise belongs to a local book club and spent many years pursuing her passion for running, especially cross-country and long distance events.

She recently hung up her running shoes to pursue a new passion for yacht sailing. During the spring and summer months, Elise now spends much of her spare time out at sea. 

Talk to Elise if you require assistance with a change of use planning application. Click the button below to find out more about changes of use.

Holly Weston B.A. (Hons), Client Liaison

Holly is from Ipswich but moved to Manchester to study Geography at the University of Salford, graduating during the pandemic in the summer of 2020.

Following graduation, Holly returned to Ipswich where she joined Planning Direct in January 2021.

Holly’s role is Client Liaison. Holly is the first point of contact for new clients and she handles most new enquiries. She also assists and advises her colleagues on a wide range of administrative and technical planning issues.

Holly is in the process of completing a postgraduate degree in MSc Town Planning at Anglia Ruskin University.

Holly has an excellent grasp on a wide variety of planning matters. Her knowledge and understanding of the planning system continues to develop through her studies and daily work.

Holly enjoys reading, cooking, baking and spending time with her family. She has recently been delving into Feminist literature and is also a regular at her local gym.

Talk to Holly if you require assistance with just about anything!

Lisa Stevens, Landscape Designer

Lisa started her career in banking but changed vocation early on to become a Landscape Designer.

With over two decades of award-winning work behind her, Lisa joined the team in 2021 to provide our Garden Planning and Landscape & Visual Impact Services.

Lisa is a keen gardener and animal lover. She also enjoys attending gigs and music festivals.

Lisa is the person to speak to if you’re in need of a garden or landscape plan. Click the button below to find out more about this service.

Seth Havens BSc (Hons), Technical Services Manager

Seth’s background is in IT and programming, having studied at the University of Manchester. He left the programming world 5 years ago to get involved in property development. He has first hand, in depth experience of the planning and building control processes and hard-won knowledge of the pitfalls and frustrations involved. 

Seth first joined the team in 2021 as an Architectural Technician. He is now our Technical Services Manager and is currently studying for his Advanced Diploma in Structural Engineering. 

His role at Planning Direct includes the preparation of detailed planning and building regulations drawings for a wide range of projects.

In his spare time, Seth is building his own home. He also enjoys miniature painting and gaming as well as practicing his carpentry skills.

Seth is the person to speak to if you’re in need of Building Regulations assistance. Click the button below to find out more about this service.

Meet the team: Craig

Craig Merrell, CAD Technician

Craig’s background is in retail, management and sales. He joined Planning Direct in 2023 as a trainee CAD technician. His role at Planning Direct includes the preparation of detailed planning drawings for a wide range of domestic and commercial projects.

Craig is passionate about architectural innovation and strives to integrate cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices into his design work, wherever possible.

Craig is a sports enthusiast and avid cyclist. He is proud to have participated in the London to Brighton bike ride for the British Heart Foundation five times! He is also a member of the Woodbridge Rowing Club.

Meet the team: Ryan

Ryan Woodfine Bsc (Hons), Planning Technician

Ryan studied BSc Geography at Portsmouth followed by a PGCE at Reading. He taught in a secondary school for 5 years before making the transition to planning. He is currently working towards a master’s degree in Planning and Leadership at the University of the West of England.

In his spare time, Ryan likes to travel and watch films.

Ryan joined Planning Direct as a Planning Technician and has since worked on a variety of planning applications, including domestic extensions, changes of use and advertisement consents. He has also been heavily involved in the development of Planning Direct’s new Biodiversity Net Gain service.

Ryan is the person to speak to if you need advice or assistance with the new Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) legal requirement. Click the button below to find out more about Planning Direct’s new BNG service.

Meet the team: Ethan

Ethan Cann, Researcher

Ethan was born in Ipswich and returned to the town in 2023, following a 4-year period living in London.

His role involves the provision of research assistance to all of his colleagues on an ad hoc basis. He is also starting to get involved in marketing and aspires to help the business to grow.

Ethan has a strong work ethic and takes a lot of pride in delivering an excellent service to both his colleagues and our clients.

Ethan is a big football fan and an Arsenal supporter. He also enjoys attending live music gigs and travelling.

Now you’ve met our team, why not find out more about our services?

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