A PLANNING officer with Wyre Forest District Council is in the running for a national award.

Senior forward planning officer Maria Dunn has been shortlisted for the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Young Planner of the Year award.

She received the Regional Young Planner of the Year Award from the West Midlands Branch of the RTPI in 2013. Following that success she is now down to the last four contenders for the national title. The award, sponsored this year by the National Planning Forum, seeks out the brightest planners in the early stages of their planning careers.

Finalists face an interview with the RTPI’s panel of judges, chaired by Steve Quartermain, chief planner at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The winner will be announced during the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence in London on June 23 and will receive a free place at the RTPI Planning Convention. They will also have the opportunity to speak at the annual RTPI Young Planners' Conference, to be held in Bristol in October.

Ms Dunn has been employed within the district council’s planning policy team since August, 2006 and has led on a number of projects and made a significant contribution to the development of planning policy.

Most recently, she has taken responsibility for delivering the council’s response to the neighbourhood planning initiative and has supported Chaddesley Corbett Parish Council in progressing its Neighbourhood Plan to publication.

She has volunteered with Planning Aid since 2005 alongside her full-time job, focusing primarily on community engagement events. For the last three years she has been assisting in the delivery of a support programme for neighbourhood planning as well as sitting on the West Midlands Planning Aid Sub-Group.

Ms Dunn was a member of the West Midlands Young Planners’ committee between 2010 and 2013, where she held the post of secretary and treasurer. She is now a member of the RTPI West Midlands Regional Activities Committee and takes an active role in promoting the planning profession.

Mike Parker, Wyre Forest District Council’s head of economic prosperity and place, said: “We are really proud that Maria has been shortlisted for the National Young Planner of the Year award.

"She is a key member of the council’s planning policy team and has helped to progress the Local Development Framework for our district.

"It is encouraging to see the proactive role Maria has taken in progressing Neighbourhood Planning within the area. This nomination is testament to her hard work for the council and in promoting the planning profession more widely.”