Programme aimed at boosting council planning skills seeks new applicants

A programme that seeks to boost planning skills in local authorities is looking for applicants for its next round of recruitment, it has announced.

Public practice: scheme aims to help authorities boost planning skills and expertise (Pic: Tim Smyth)
Public practice: scheme aims to help authorities boost planning skills and expertise (Pic: Tim Smyth)

Public Practice, a social enterprise that was set up last year to promote public sector planning, is asking for candidates to submit applications for its next round of recruitment by 26 November.

It is also seeking expressions of interest from local authorities who want to be involved in the scheme by 29 November, the organisation says.

The organisation says its model of providing planning staff for councils is "simpler than traditional recruitment and lower cost than private agencies".

The scheme, funded jointly by authorities and a group of other sector organisations, runs a process to select "talented, motivated and experienced" built environment experts - known as associates - for year-long placements in local authorities.

The first cohort of 17 associates started placements at local authorities in London and the South East in April 2018 and were focused on improving design capacity in those councils.

Public Practice says their work helped the authorities "unlock or improve 24,845 homes; create or improve 226,690 square metres of public realm; accelerate the delivery of £370 million of public infrastructure; and engage 1,200 stakeholders in planning".

"The quality, ambition and importance of the work the first cohort are doing together with their colleagues is inspiring," said Finn Williams, co-founder and chief executive of Public Practice.

He added: "From designing new approaches to engaging communities to delivering more genuinely affordable homes, they are making a real difference on the ground.

"We are now looking for a new wave of authorities and built environment experts to join Public Practice, and be part of a wider movement that is creating an exciting resurgence in local government."

Among the organisations part-funding the programme are the mayor of London, Historic England, consultancy Future Cities Catapult and developers British Land and the Berkeley Group.

Details of the programme are available here.

An article outlining the benefits to planners of having a wide perspective of local government work can be read here. 

An article on the importance of having urban design skills/knowledge as a planner can be read here. 

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