Andrea Pellegram moved to England in 1987 after completing her two Masters Degrees at Columbia University in New York (Anthropology and Urban Planning). She is originally from Seattle, Washington. Though she originally only intended to stay in the UK for a few years, she has made England her home and is now a UK citizen. She is married to Lee Searles.
Andrea Pellegram’s career started in London, first working for SERPLAN and the London Planning Advisory Committee, then working for the Port of London where she produced the first port development strategy which still resonates in policies in the London Plan. She went on to work for Surrey County Council as the head of Minerals, Waste and County development functions, then went to Cotswold District Council as Director of Development Services.
Andrea Pellegram decided to leave local government and work independently and her first project was to prepare a community plan for Cirencester where she is a resident. This project was pivotal to her future career because she learned that local communities have a lot to say but that the planning system does not always listen.
The 2008 recession and subsequent austerity policies led Andrea Pellegram to work in the private sector. She worked as the Technical Services Manager for Hills Waste Solutions in Wiltshire where she learned about how a private company operates and acted as the lead planner for a number of complex waste planning applications.
Andrea Pellegram’s long journey through planning, not always happy, not always enjoyable, has given her a rounded perspective on planning. She is passionate about the need for local planning authorities and the private sector to listen to local communities. She is a fierce and persistent advocate for allowing a local voice in development outcomes.
Lee Searles began his career with the Rural Development Commission in 1988, working on Rural Development Programme grant support for rural community social and community projects. He became a planner in 1989 when he joined the London Planning Advisory Committee, staying there for eight years and in that time undertaking a range of strategic London-wide planning research and policy development. Lee Searles won an RTPI London Planning award for his work on a London burial space strategy.
Lee Searles joined the Local Government Association in late 1997 and undertook a range of policy and project work supporting local authorities on planning, transport, housing and sustainable community regeneration. This involved working closely with a wide range of national and local politicians, senior local authority officers and civil servants, parliamentary committees and processes, and representatives from development industry groups, charities, campaign groups and think tanks. Lee Searles engaged directly with the press and broadcast media.
Significant work included work on how to protect allotments from loss, telecommunications masts development, protocols for ensuring effective provision of gypsy and traveller sites and services, town centre strategies, local bus services, influencing statutory undertakers at the local level, promoting strategies to secure affordable housing and much more. Through this work, Lee Searles gained a solid understanding of how service delivery across a broad spectrum works and comes together at the local level.
Following a move to Gloucestershire, Lee Searles left the LGA in 2006 and has been in consultancy ever since. Lee Searles worked freelance on a range of policy projects and in 2011 became a local town councillor in Cirencester (to 2019) and a District Councillor for Cotswold District (to 2015). He sat on planning committee and the local plan board at District Level.
Lee Searles joined a planning and environmental consultancy in 2014 and focused on making a wide range of successful planning applications across the UK. These included housing, care homes, commercial, renewable energy and waste developments. He undertook further burial space research, winning a further national planning award for this project.
Lee Searles joined Andrea Pellegram in late 2021, making local plan representations and supporting local councils in responding to local planning issues.