Hive Team


Stuart Sage BSc Dip TP MRTPI


Stuart is a chartered town planner with considerable experience in both the public and private sectors and a track record of delivery. Stuart has an unrivalled network of contacts across the property sector in the North West and nationally, opening doors and accessing intelligence in national government, local government and industry.

Stuart’s core expertise is in the delivery of large projects, from concept and the adoption of a sound strategy, advising on governance, through to planning and implementation. This draws on key skills including strategic policy, project management, development management, planning policy, economic development, land assembly and site finding.

Stuart is active on a diverse range of projects across the North West, including the regeneration of town and city centres, advising on the delivery of Garden Villages and undertaking a range of instructions either with or involving Homes England. His other areas of work include high-level strategic business cases; site promotion through Local Plan reviews; strategic and immediate housing site finding; public sector and developer partnerships; strategic commercial site finding; and long term strategic residential site promotion with private landowners.

Stuart has sat on a number of national and regional boards, including garden villages, devolved regional structures (the most prominent and successful of which being the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal), regional design panels, and economic development boards. Stuart has advised on a number of national government expert advisory groups around planning and land, and is very experienced in strategic policy formulation.

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Mark Vaughan BSc (Hons) MRICS


Mark is a chartered surveyor with a proven track record of innovative, commercially driven solutions in the delivery of residential sites. An expert negotiator in land deals, Mark has a pragmatic approach and is committed to delivering in a client’s best interests. With both public and private sector experience, including working for one of the leading national surveying practices, Mark has built up over 15 years of experience in the property sector. Mark qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 2004. This commercially orientated approach coupled with an in depth understanding of local government and planning sets Mark apart from his peers.

Mark brings a very extensive knowledge and market intelligence from across the North West, which he applies to a number of disciplines. Mark works extensively for Hive’s clients on site finding and brokering; matching developers up with deliverable, commercial land deals based on the client’s specific requirements. Mark skills are also deployed more broadly on project management for public sector clients on a diverse range of projects including landowner engagement, bidding and securing grant funding, leading on government funded housing initiatives and various other matters. The projects range from individual sites to large scale urban expansions and garden villages.

Mark’s core skills focus on project management, commercial negotiation, site finding and evaluation, financial modelling for green infrastructure as well as site acquisitions and disposals. These skills are linked to a comprehensive network of expert advisors, consultants and developers across the North West.

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Justin Cove BA(Hons), MSc, MRTPI


Justin is a chartered town planner with considerable experience in both local government and private sector planning consultancy. He takes a highly commercial approach having worked for two real estate agencies and on a range of instructions with a development focus.

During his career, Justin has worked across most sectors including Residential (both strategic and immediate land), Industrial & Logistics, Office, Energy, Retail & Leisure, Corporate and Mixed Use schemes. This varied expertise allows him to adapt his skills as necessary for the task at hand.

As a result, Justin has covered most aspects of the profession including Expert Witness at Public Inquiries, Examination in Public, major planning applications, public and stakeholder engagement and the management and co-ordination of multi-disciplinary teams. Justin has also conducted sites searches for both immediate and strategic land for a range of clients.

Justin is client facing, keen to engage with local authorities and consultees in a positive and proactive way and is always up for a challenge.

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Sarah May BA (Hons), MSc, MRICS


Sarah is a chartered surveyor who has over 10 years of experience advising clients on the delivery of town centre regeneration, sourcing and delivering residential development opportunities, preparing development appraisals and cashflows and securing public sector grant funding and development finance.

Sarah is currently active on a range of instructions for clients across the U.K. including advising on the delivery of several Garden Villages, advising both Local Authority and developer clients on securing Homes England funding, preparing market reports for developer and investor clients and sourcing land opportunities across the North West for house builders, package providers and housing associations. Sarah is also working with Preston City Council on the award winning City Living Strategy which is in the process of delivering 48 stalled and complex city centre sites in Preston.

Sarah has a broad depth of experience in delivering residential sites, from individual sites to large and complex opportunities, which is a result of her experience of working with both the private and public sectors. Sarah previously worked for Avison Young where she worked with clients including Local Authorities, Homes England and private sector clients on a broad range of projects concerned with delivering complex residential sites, often within the ownership of the public sector. Sarah also worked at Homes England to acquire land for their strategic programmes. Additionally, Sarah was a Development Manager at Barratt Partnerships where she project managed and prepared partnership bids for public sector land opportunities with a particular focus on preparing the financial bid, as well as managing several partnership sites under construction.

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Sarah May



Victoria Owen 


Victoria is a Chartered Town Planner, having been elected as a member of the RTPI in February 2021. Prior to joining Hive, Victoria was a Planner at David Lock Associates. She joined DLA as an Assistant Planner in September 2018, following the completion of her MA in Town and Regional Planning at the University of Sheffield. At DLA she was an integral team member working on a number of projects, ranging from small scale infill sites to employment campuses and large scale residential-led Strategic Urban Extensions. She has experience of local plan promotion, drafting detailed reports and the preparation, submission and negotiation of a wide variety of planning applications. Since joining Hive she has assisted with the preparation of Hearing Statements for Local Plan Examination in Public and is working on a number of market and affordable housing schemes across the North West.

Victoria has excellent organisation and communication skills and is passionate about forging good relationships with clients, stakeholders, local communities and Planning Officers. She is also keen to engage with Planners of the future, having been an eMentor, helping to facilitate DLA’s Virtual Work Experience programme and assisting the delivery of University workshops and lectures. She is a current member of the University of Sheffield’s Urban Studies & Planning Alumni Board and was nominated for the Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award 2021 by the University of Sheffield.

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Ashley Bennett BA (Hons), MA, M/CD


Ashley is a Town Planner currently working towards full chartership status of the RTPI having graduated in 2020 from the University of Liverpool with a M/CD in Town and Regional Planning. Prior to joining Hive, Ashley was a Senior Economic Consultant with over 5 years’ experience at Mott MacDonald and Arup specialising in the urban development and transport sectors. During his time at Mott MacDonald and Arup he developed a strong track record of delivering a wide range of projects including 5-stage Business Cases, economic impact assessments, strategic policy and monitoring and evaluation plans for both public and private sector clients. As a Senior Economic Consultant, he gained significant experience assessing a wide variety of wider economic impacts of schemes and interventions including job creation, Gross Value Added (GVA), temporary construction, and Land Value Uplift benefits.

Ashley is an experienced project manager and possesses excellent organisational and communication skills which have enabled him to lead and support the delivery of projects for public and private sector clients across the UK. He recently led and supported the delivery of Town Investment Plans for the towns of Workington, Scunthorpe, Worcester, Oldham and Redditch as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund announced in July 2019. His primary responsibilities included leading extensive project prioritisation exercises, stakeholder engagement and economic baselining and strategic policy document preparation. Subsequently he was also heavily involved in the development of Full Business Cases for the projects that received funding from the Towns Fund. Ashley also gained significant exposure to the public sector having been seconded for over twelve months to Transport for Greater Manchester to support the delivery of Transport Evidence Base which underpinned the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) as well as the GMSF Draft Delivery Plan 2020-2025.

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Ashley Bennett

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