Dartford is a small borough with big plans. The council is recruiting for five planning roles to boost its policy, implementation and development management capabilities. These include a planner and senior planner for the major projects team, a planner and senior planner for the planning policy team, and a senior planner for the development management team.
"We have a big job to do here", enthuses Ryszkowska. "We need policy planners who truly want to make a difference, are strategic thinkers and are able to come up with creative solutions to local circumstances, which sometimes buck national trends...you have to be prepared to respond quickly and positively to change." For the major projects team, Ryszkowska explains that "having an eye for design and appreciation of layouts, combined with commercial awareness" will help. Experience in development management and urban design, masterplanning qualifications and experience are important. Those starting out in the industry may not have this experience but must have an aptitude and willingness to learn quickly.
Be at the forefront of major change
Dartford is undergoing enormous change, so the new recruits will be working in a fast changing industry but with scope to get into exciting projects. They will be at the forefront of changes such as piloting new initiatives in town centre regeneration and major housing and mixed use developments. "We have to be fleet-footed, adaptable and flexible, in order to stay ahead of the changes and seize opportunities for our area", says Ryszkowska. "It’s not enough to simply respond to change but we need to be proactively ahead of transformation and to embrace it positively - that is something we’re very proud of doing very well here at Dartford Council."
Join an integrated team that is going places
Working as part of a small and friendly team, new recruits will have the opportunity to gain experience across varying projects and will benefit from their colleagues’ expertise in different specialisms. As Ryszkowska explains: "We work in a very integrated way here at Dartford, which means our policy planners gain on the ground coal-face feedback from the development management team, and in turn, the development management planners gain valuable policy knowledge, enabling them to think about each application in the wider context of its cumulative impact on the community."
Working in a close team, junior planners benefit from continuous development and mentoring, learning from the experience and knowledge that senior planners can offer. Senior planners can enjoy a high level of autonomy.
Drive projects to positively impact the borough
One of the most exciting projects to work on is the £3bn London Paramount theme park. This will be the largest leisure resort in England, situated on a 900-acre brownfield site, and is estimated to create 27,000 jobs. Other significant projects include working alongside the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation on the first of the new wave of garden cities - a major area of regeneration on brownfield land, which will create 15,000 homes, jobs and leisure facilities.
Ryszkowska comments: "The planners will be pivotal in ensuring the projects create a high quality of life that people in the area aspire to. However, each project should not be looked at in isolation. The planners will have the crucial role of resolving the infrastructure challenges which result from the huge amount of growth in the Borough and ensuring that the large new developments are well-integrated with each other and with existing communities."
Dartford is already an ideal place to be based, with fast links to central London and Paris on HS1. However, the council is promoting new transport infrastructure, including extension of Crossrail to Dartford that will further improve connections; and additions to the award-winning Fastrack bus service which links the major new developments with existing communities. Planners will require strong influencing and communication skills and partnership working to bring these projects to fruition.
Top tips for applying
Ryszkowska offers the following advice for candidates wishing to apply for one of the roles:
1. Can answer yes to these questions: Do you have a positive attitude to change? Do you genuinely want to make a difference? Do you thrive in a busy and challenging working environment?
2. Ensure your application is well presented, succinct and focuses on the most relevant points for the role.
3. Demonstrate what you can bring to the role.
4. Provide evidence of your ability to see the bigger picture.
5. For senior planner roles, demonstrate your experience of working on major projects.
To apply for a planning role at Dartford Borough Council, please visit www.planningjobs.co.uk by 8th October 2015
This article was written and edited by Dartford Borough Council.