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A Day in the Life: Senior Planning Officer

My role is to be responsible for a caseload of planning applications where new development is proposed and to make professional recommendations on each project based on whether there is compliance with planning policies and having regard to the views of the public, specialist bodies and organisations.

What is it like working for ESBC?

Working for ESBC is a highly rewarding experience because the Borough has a mix of urban and rural environments which brings forward different challenges. This includes opportunities for developing much needed housing and regeneration of brownfield sites, whilst also protecting rural landscapes and preserving heritage assets such as Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings.   

What do you like about your role?

The main aspect of the role I enjoy is problem solving, as each case and site we deal with is different and has its own set of characteristics which have to be taken into account. As part of the role we are exposed to a wide range of professional people who work across different sector. We also meet, listen and take into account the views of residents and inform and work closely with Councillors.

What skills does a Planning Officer need?

The most important key skills include being able to negotiate effectively, proactively engage with developers, mediate meetings calmly, take informed decisions, meet targets and deadlines, listen to the views of different people and be able to critique design and find solutions to problems that arise.

Can you outline a typical day?

A typical day generally revolves around 3 main areas:

  1. Writing reports that include professional recommendations on whether development proposals should be granted planning permission.
  2. Conducting formal site visits and assessing the potential impact of development proposals whilst also understanding the context to surroundings.
  3. Taking into account the views of residents and using different techniques to negotiate with developers and other stakeholders to shape proposals so that they achieve a better outcome.

A typical day would involve at least one of these 3 main areas which results in your own caseload of applications moving forward.

What is the most satisfying aspect of the role?

The satisfying aspect of the role is seeing a development project in built form where you have negotiated and helped to shape it in a way where the design has been improved or the quality of life for nearby residents has been protected. It is also highly satisfying to see new housing developments in construction phase which results in new homes for families.

What are the frustrations?

The frustrations are that, even though you have tried to problem solve and find every solution, sometimes a project has fundamental issues and there is no choice but to refuse planning permission.