Career View in Planning

27th March 2024

Planning Career Path

Show House Magazine recently spoke to Melissa Quaranta, Land and Planning Associate at Fruition Properties, about the career path to her current role and ambitions for the future.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your role?

I graduated with a Property and Planning degree from the University of Westminster five years ago and since then have worked client-side across Land, Planning and Development Management.

A year ago, I joined Fruition Properties as land and planning associate, where I manage the planning application process from the initial feasibility stages and concept design to securing planning permission.

What makes my role particularly interesting is that my projects relate to airspace development, where we are adding one or two storeys of accommodation on top of existing buildings. There are so many more considerations and risks at play compared to traditional ground-up development, such as the structural integrity of the existing building and how works would impact the existing residents.

How did you get into the industry?

My journey into the industry began with my choice to pursue a Property and Planning degree, driven by my fascination with the tangible impact of creating new homes. Whilst at university I got some early work experience at Savills, Berkeley Group, and Bouygues and then joined the graduate scheme at Galliard Homes. This involved rotations across all the different departments which allowed me to widen my skill set. Following my graduate role, I then joined the Development Management team which oversaw the delivery of projects at pre-construction stage, giving me an invaluable insight into the later stages of development.

Do you have a ‘typical’ day? 

My current projects are all at varying planning stages. Some are in the initial feasibility stage whereas in others we are gearing towards submitting a planning application. This means each day is varied and each project requires different work streams. A large part of my role is overseeing consultants and reviewing their work to make sure it aligns with the project objectives and strategy. Some days a lot of the time will be spent in meetings and analysing reports or drawings.

Fruition Properties’ commitment to continuous learning means I also dedicate a portion of my time to staying up to date with evolving legislation.

Have there been industry figures or mentors that have been particularly influential?

Absolutely. I was lucky to have a mentor during my university days who had worked as a development manager at a prestigious development company previously but, who, like me, started from scratch in the industry. They provided valuable insights and inspiration and proved pivotal in shaping my post-graduate career decisions.

Have you had a favourite moment in your career, or been inspired by a particular project?

A standout moment for me was working on the £120million sale and purchase transaction of a seven-hectare site, following the grant of planning consent. As part of the contractual obligations, various notices and documentation had to be provided to the purchaser within a specified timescale. Collaborating closely with the legal team throughout the year-long process, our collective diligence and commitment were put to the test. In the very end, the entirety of the transaction hinged on securing written reliance on a historic ground investigation report – I was able to obtain this with a quick turnaround which meant the deal could be finalised within the contracted timescale.

What are your ambitions for the next few years? 

Looking ahead, securing my RICS accreditation in the Planning and Development Pathway tops the list. As the company continues to grow, I would also like to take on larger-scale projects, maintaining a focus on placemaking, community engagement, and sustainable practices, and having personally benefitted, I am keen to take on a mentoring role for graduates who are looking to join the industry.

If someone is looking at starting a career in the property sector – whichever discipline – do you have any advice for them? 

For those eyeing a career in the property sector, I would emphasise the importance of work experience and networking. Attending networking events, establishing contacts in the industry, and seeking mentorship can open doors to invaluable opportunities, shaping a solid foundation for a future career.

This article first appeared in Show House.