A Day In The Life Of....
A day in the life of Darran Kitchener
Associate Director, Milestone Transport Planning Ltd.
What is he responsible for?
I am responsible for developing the business within the North of England and Scotland. Effectively that takes me anywhere from Birmingham to Inverness! Milestone is a specialist Transport Planning consultancy that focuses on delivering a comprehensive service to private and public sector clients. Our core business revolves around providing highways and transport advice through the planning process, but we also offer a ‘one-stop’ solution to our Clients for all aspects of transport planning, highways scheme design, environmental planning, development implementation and operation.
I am an engineer “at heart” with a BEng (hons) degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Leeds University and as well as being a Member of the CIHT, I’m also a Chartered Member of the CILT. Over the past 15 years I have been working mostly in the transport consultancy sector and all of it based in the North of England, despite being an Essex-boy originally.
I head up our new office which has just opened in the Gateshead International Business Centre, just a stone’s throw from the “High Level” bridge, but am regularly out and about meeting clients and travelling to our other office in Guildford. Living out in Consett, County Durham I not only see a lot of the region, but a lot of the weather it can provide too.
Transport to work
To get to the office it’s a car, I’m afraid (hangs head in shame). In my defence, once I’m here I walk or use public transport as much as possible, but my commute would take twice as long by any other method. At least my current car (a fancy Hybrid thingy) is much more efficient than the 15mpg I got from my previous car - a 90’s Saab turbo!
Top of ‘In’-tray
Agreeing the masterplan layout and highway infrastructure work for a 3,000 house, new school and new neighbourhood centre development to the west of Newcastle.
Best aspects of job
Getting out and meeting people. Whether that be new or potential Clients, or students through the course I run at Newcastle University – I like the social aspect of the job as much as the technical side of things. I’ve found that if you can build a relationship with people, you can better understand their wants and needs in a project, allowing you to provide a more bespoke service that gives them a much better end product.
We’re an SME consultancy, so while that means we are all focused on delivering exactly what the Client needs and wants, juggling the demands of numerous projects all at the same time is challenging at times. Still, that’s part of what makes the job fun too!
What is the most important transport issue today?
In the North, as a whole, I think it has to be the lack of connectivity to the rest of the country. Whether that be physical links such as the A1 / A1M and mainline rail services, or mental links regarding how the rest of the country sees us. We need to work on both if we are to continue to grow and regenerate as a region.
The recent investment in the A1 around Newcastle, A1M towards Darlington (and beyond) should be lauded, as should the improvements to the A19 which are due to start. Also the recent announcement of further rail services on the ECML by Virgin are pushing the region forward, but they won’t help unless we can encourage people to trade with us here in the North.
Both Cumbria and the North East can be seen as so remote to the rest of the country that many people I speak to (in London, in particular) think that “The North” stops at the Leeds/Manchester corridor and there’s nothing from there to the central belt of Scotland. We need to work to change this perception or else we will never capitalise on the investment in transport projects around the region.
Those infrastructure projects I’ve mentioned help in two ways, through adding desperately needed capacity on the transport network as a whole, but also through raising the profile of the area. The national media coverage of Nissan’s investment, Sunderland’s new bridge, the A1 duelling north of Newcastle, and the new power station on the Cumbrian coast not only serve to show that the region is investing, but also that we have the transport infrastructure, local workforce and unrivalled enthusiasm to offer to the wider country.
It’s that connectivity, physical and mental, that we need to keep working hard to provide.
How do you relax?
I’m a keen runner and participate in as many events as my time allows – unfortunately (or should that be fortunately?) most of my time is taken up by the business and spending time with my family. That said, running round after two kids can be tiring enough, and you can often find us walking or cycling along the Derwent Walk, the route of the old Consett to Sunderland railway. I also enjoy music and always have something playing in the background, be it in the car, whilst out training, or even in the office.
To see the Gateshead office, and therefore the business as a whole, continue to grow. which we are well on course for at the moment – just need to keep those projects coming in now.