MSPlanning expands senior team as leap of faith pays off

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THE Beach Club at St Brelade’s Bay, the redevelopment of The Water’s Edge Hotel at Bouley Bay and the award-winning transformation of Grève de Lecq may, at first glance, seem unconnected.

But linking each of these projects is a team of planners, heritage specialists, designers and architects whose combined knowledge and experience enables them to provide a ‘unique approach to Island developments and improvements to the public realm’.

Indeed, having worked at the Planning Department for around 15 years before founding MSPlanning in 2005, Michael Stein has more insight that most into how to design a scheme in a way which is most likely to win over both the clients and the authorities.

‘I was in my mid-40s and a principal planner when I started to question whether it was time to take a leap of faith and set up my own business,’ he reflected. ‘MSPlanning started with me offering consultancy services but it soon became clear that combining architectural and planning services was advantageous to both clients and the business and so, within three or four years, the company had grown to a team of eight.’

While the business grew quickly, Michael remained the sole director until the beginning of this year when, ‘to secure the future of the firm’, he decided to extend the senior management team with two new directors, John Nicholson and Jean-Luc Egglishaw.

With a background similar to Michael’s, John also worked as a principal planner at the Planning Department before joining the firm in 2019.

‘Our blend of experience means that we approach projects from the side of both the developer and the planners,’ John explained. ‘This understanding and support of Island identity means that we give clients straight advice. Crucially, it also means that when we submit an application, the planners know that it has been compiled honestly and objectively.’

It is this sense of supporting Island identity and responsibility to future generations, adds Jean-Luc, which underpins the firm’s approach.

‘Our most recent successes, such as the duneland development at Grève de Lecq, show that we understand what makes Jersey special and that we are focused on successful placemaking for the community,’ he said.

‘We know that the places we are designing will be around for a long time so it is important not only that they enhance their surroundings but that they are also designed in a manner which is sympathetic to the environment.’

And that focus on sustainability was particularly evident in the Seaside Café scheme, which secured the team a Jersey Design Award in 2022 after being described as a ‘benchmark for future development’.

‘As the site falls within the Coastal National Park, it was particularly important to come up with a sympathetic and ecological design,’ Jean-Luc explained. ‘We therefore created a dunescape design, in which the new buildings blend in with the surroundings. By improving road and pedestrian access, the scheme not only reflects the area’s history and ecological importance but also enhances the public realm.’

With schemes for developers, private clients, social-housing providers and utility firms among the ever-increasing number of projects on its books, the Eco-active-accredited practice has not only expanded its management team but has also recruited more architects to respond to demand.

‘We are lucky to have a dynamic and progressive team, many of whom have worked with us for many years,’ said Michael. ‘While the appointments of John and Jean-Luc will help to grow the business and support the team, we are also keen to enable our staff to grow. To this end, the team ranges from members with decades of experience to trainees, whose development we are supporting. We also have another architect joining the firm in April, which will take the team up to 12.’

Accommodating this growth is the firm’s new premises, in Britannia Place.

‘We came here about 18 months ago in another move designed to safeguard the business and facilitate its growth,’ added Michael. ‘The space is light and bright, creating a good working environment which aligns with our ethos of transparency, honest advice and the delivery of professionally responsible schemes.’

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