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In reflecting on my professional development, I consider that my skills and competencies have developed significantly and that my level of responsibility has developed to reflect this. Leading the production of the Neighbourhood Plan is a challenging task that has drawn on my skills across a very broad range of areas. It has also however been a very rewarding area of work and one that I feel has significantly developed my core spatial planning skills and will provide a robust basis to further my professional development. I also believe that my experience at RDA and (name removed) City Council has enabled me to start to develop the wider generic skill set required of built environment professionals, particularly in terms of multidisciplinary working, negotiation and mediation, and leadership. This will provide a strong basis from which to develop my future career within the sector and effectively respond to change.
Well developed analytical and research skills
Strong report writing/policy skills
Breadth of experience in spatial planning and regeneration through roles at Development Agency & Council
Strong interpersonal skills
Wide range of professional contacts and networks through involvement in Regional Activities Committee and Young Planners Events
Limited knowledge of development control and 'the mechanics of planning' - inquiries, compulsory purchase powers etc.
No direct line-management experience
Need to develop skills in terms of managing conflict/difficult situations
Urban renaissance and current public policy commitment to building skills amongst built environment professionals - e.g. Academy for Sustainable Communities, Regional Centres of Excellence, CABE
Emergence of City Regions and development of associated organisations and bodies
Widening range of public sector special delivery bodies and regeneration agencies e.g. URCs, UDCs, RDAs
'Missing generation' of planners could provide opportunities for more rapid career progression
Impact of Comprehensive Spending Review on regeneration spending and growth within the sector
Impact of review of land use planning/potential change of political direction under new Labour leadership
Competition from recent increase in number of high calibre graduates completing accelerated RTPI-accredited Masters degrees.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Period: September 2006 â€‘ September 2008
Date of next review: March 2007
WHERE AM I NOW?
Current job title and employer details
Since 3 April 2006 I have been employed as Planning Officer (Planning Regeneration) at (name removed) City Council.
Current job / role
My key area of work is the project management of the production of a Neighbourhood Plan as a nonâ€‘statutory area planning document. The core tasks which the production of the Neighbourhood Plan involves are:
Preparation and agreement of the scope and approach to the production of the Neighbourhood Plan;
Preparation of a Baseline and Issues report;
Commissioning and management of consultants to facilitate stakeholder and community engagement workshops;
Coâ€‘ordination of both Officer Group and Advisory Group meetings; Principal point of contact for community and stakeholder enquiries; Preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan document and associated Sustainability Assessment and Consultation Statement;
Liaison with Elected Members; and
Preparation of formal reports to Planning Lead Member, Cabinet, and Council.
Outside the project management of the production of the Neighbourhood Plan, my role also involves:
preparing development briefs for key sites, and associated community and stakeholder engagement;
providing policy advice in relevant preâ€‘application discussions with developers relating to significant development sites;
working with partners to secure the implementation of plans and urban regeneration schemes;
preparing reports to Lead Member, Cabinet and Council to seek political endorsement where appropriate; and
providing planning advice to colleagues and stakeholders across a range of disciplines including housing, property, neighbourhood management, education services, and landscape design.
Policy / report writing skills â€‘ these were significantly developed through my work at RDA and will provide a strong basis to inform my production of policy documents and development briefs. See log book entry, p.x
Analytical and research skills â€‘ these were also significantly developed through my work at RDA and have been critical in supporting my preparation of a Baseline and Issues report for the Neighbourhood Plan area. See log book entry, p.y
Project management and collaborative working â€‘ my project management of the Historic Towns and Cities study at RDA developed my project management skills in terms of managing the consultants and financial management. My skills in collaborative and multidisciplinary working were developed through liaising with the steering group and engaging key partners and stakeholders. See log book entry, p.z
Current areas for developmentâ€‘
Engaging and working with the local community â€‘ due to the nature of my role at RDA this is not an area in which I had experience prior to working at (current employer). It will be important that I continue to develop skills in this area in order to effectively carry out the duties of my role. Taking forward the Neighbourhood Plan process will be a key means of developing my skills in this area. See log book pages a, b and c.
Knowledge of the development control / implementation side of planning â€‘ this relates to developing my detailed knowledge across a range of key areas which could be termed the 'mechanics of planning'. These include planning applications, appeals and inquiries, callâ€‘ins, development control and enforcement, and compulsory purchase powers. These are not areas in which I previously had experience given the nature of my role at RDA. They will however be important areas for development given the more local l implementation based nature of my role at (location removed).
Developing skills in understanding and mediating political situations â€‘developing skills in political awareness and mediation will be important given the political nature of planning, and partnership working more generally. In terms of my role at (location removed), the areas which I will seek to strengthen include managing relationships with key partners and stakeholders, colleagues from other sections within the Council, and Elected Members.
WHERE AM I GOING?
Long term goals
My long term goal is to develop my career in the public sector. There are a wide range of reasons which underpin this commitment. These include the range of opportunities available, the breadth of work and the ability to make a difference and see tangible results from your work, together with the supportive organisational culture and commitment to staff development and maintaining a positive workâ€‘life balance.
My goal would be to work within planning/regeneration within a special delivery body as I believe this would offer the greatest potential for creativity and innovation. Within the existing organisational landscape, this could for example be within an Urban Regeneration Company. There are however likely to be other similar bodies emerging in the future as the organisational landscape changes.
I believe that my experience to date within the RDA working on a strategic / policy based level, together with the more local level, implementationâ€‘focused experience I will get in my present role at (location removed) will put me in a good position to realise my goal by giving me a broad range of experience in planning and regeneration.
Short term goals
I will develop my skills in terms of working with the local community and securing effective engagement in the planâ€‘making process.
I will develop my knowledge of the 'mechanics of planning', including planning applications, appeals and inquiries, callâ€‘ins, development control and enforcement, and compulsory purchase powers.
I will develop my skills of political awareness through managing relationships with key partners, stakeholders, colleagues from other sections within the Council and Elected Members.
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HOW WILL I GET THERE?
Objective 1: Develop skills of community working and engagement.
How will I get there?
Liaise with the Consultation and Commissioning group and other colleagues to develop a best practice approach to community engagement as part of the production of the Neighbourhood Plan. First meeting December 06.
Learn best practice techniques of facilitation from specialist consultants commissioned to facilitate the Neighbourhood Plan workshops. Initial meeting set up for March 07.
Continue to assist in the facilitation of relevant community engagement workshops and events at the Council. Workshops approaching in November and December 06.
Continue to attend community facilitation workshops through my volunteer role with regional Planning Aid (see examples in log book, pages d, e and f). Workshop event July 07.
Attend relevant training events on community engagement techniques organised by the RTPI, Planning Aid, or the (location removed) Planners Training Group. Specifically, event on Engaging with Young People in February 07.
Objective 2: Develop detailed knowledge of the 'mechanics of planning'.
How will I get there?
Involvement with development control colleagues at (development & regeneration services consultancy) in pre-application discussions with developers for scheme proposals for key sites. Meeting scheduled for October 06.
Developing my working knowledge of the key development control principles, through familiarisation with the GDPO and planning legislation, and familiarisation with the Council's relevant draft and adopted Supplementary Planning Documents, including the Planning Obligations SPD, Housing SPD, Greenspace SPD, Design and Crime SPD, and the Nature Conservation & Biodiversity SPD. Have read and understood all documents by January 08.
Relevant web-based research via Localaw and the DCLG and HMSO websites to develop my knowledge of relevant documents relating to the statutory procedures and legislative context.
Involvement with colleagues from the Plans Group in relation to assisting in the preparation of case for appeals and call-ins. One-to-one arranged with (colleague) for November 06.
Attendance at relevant planning inquiries to observe and learn from proceedings. Inquiry examining (details removed) due for January 07.
Keep updated of amendments to the statutory procedures through reading relevant articles in Planning, the Planning Matters website, and attending Planning Law update events. Ongoing - review amendments/learning outcomes in April 07.
Objective 3: Develop skills in terms of political awareness and relationship management.
How will I get there?
Co-ordination of the Neighbourhood Plan Officer Group and Advisory Group, which will develop my skills in relationship building with officers from across the Council's Directorates, in addition to Elected Members and community representatives. Meeting scheduled December 06.
Actively engage key external stakeholders in the production of the Neighbourhood Plan, including the (location removed) URC, the PCT and NHS Trust, (local area) Police, and key Registered Social Landlords.
Continue to build my network of professional contacts through my role on the RTPI Regional Activities Committee and my involvement in the (regional) Young Planners Group and Planning Aid.
Overall this is a clear and comprehensive Professional Development Plan. The candidate has thought deeply about where he sees his career progressing, so while his short term goals are focused on improvements relating to his current role, this is part of a wider vision for the future. There is clear ownership of the PDP - on reading it you understand the candidate's strengths and weaknesses through the same themes being picked up and addressed in the SWOT, the strengths/weaknesses of the PDP, and future objectives. So while the short term goals might not directly and explicitly work towards the long term goals, it is easy to see how these goals/objectives have been arrived at. Although the rest of the APC submission is not shown here, the PDP is also clearly identifiable as belonging to this candidate, and it is therefore clear that it is a very personal account. References are made to sections of the log book, which help with this. The actions that are identified are a little vague - the comments show how this has/could be improved by identifying more structured/specific activities, and by introducing target time frames. The candidate does not rely solely on general activities in the workplace, but identifies some firm CPD activities that will very likely have to take place outside of the day-to-day employment e.g. structured reading/research with particular topics/documents in mind. Candidates should avoid relying solely on activities that will take place during day-to-day work to meet objectives - undertaking an activity at work doesn't necessarily mean you will learn from it, and opportunities to take on certain work activities are often outside of your control.