HUNTINGDONSHIRE District Council seems to be haemorrhaging planners to the private sector. Simon Richardson, pictured, has followed fellow town planner Jenny Thomas to Godmanchester-based planning and development consultants John Martin & Associates as a principal planner. Simon has more than 10 years' experience as a chartered town planner, gained in both the public and private sectors, the last four at Huntingdonshire District Council as a development control officer. Two others have recently joined Savills in Cambridge, including conservation area guru Chris Surfleet. Planning policy manager Richard Probyn said planners were in great demand at present, with huge expansion of housing planned - at least 508,000 new dwellings in the east of England by 2021, including no fewer than 11,200 in Huntingdonshire. "The private sector is fairly buoyant at the moment, and we are having to backfill with consultants for the moment. But we are not at crisis point. "We save money on the one hand, by not employing people who leave but, on the other, we have to pay the consultancy fees. "It does hit morale a bit, but it's a cyclical thing, and many of them may well come back to local government. They were just ready for career moves." Simon agreed: "I started off working in the City of London before local government, and I thought it was the right time to cross the divide again. But I won't lose touch. I shall still be working with the council.