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Aylesbury Vale - your potential next stop in planning

Words: The Planner

This week, The Planner’s Careers Month special is focusing on careers in public sector planning, with support from Aylesbury Vale District Council. What does work in the public sector offer, and how can a council like Aylesbury Vale District Council provide a rewarding career to planners?

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Why work in the public sector? The Planner’s Careers Survey found a degree of disenchantment which we can attribute to the unusual pressures under which public sector planners operate. This month’s feature about the ‘reanimation’ of the public sector counters this with a variety of initiatives that are helping to promote and invigorate public sector careers. It also stresses the very important principle that the RTPI is exploring – working in the public interest.

At Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) we believe very strongly that public sector planning careers should be meaningful and rewarding. Working in a local authority is a good choice for ambitious and talented planners who want to exercise their skills for the public good.

Housing, neighbourhood planning, major infrastructure, new settlements, conservation of built heritage – you name it, the public sector is where important, and increasingly innovative, work is taking place.

Why do we think that? Because, as one of the busiest planning authorities in the country, we see it every day. At AVDC we process almost 4,000 applications each year, and we have plans to deliver 27,000 new homes by 2033.

Our district is at the heart of multiple national infrastructure projects, including HS2, East-West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. What’s more, with Aylesbury awarded Garden Town status in January 2017, we offer the unique opportunity to ensure that as the town grows, Aylesbury and the surrounding area continues to thrive and be an attractive place to live, work and visit.

"It’s dynamic and challenging – what we all came into planning for"

It’s dynamic, challenging and what we all came into planning for – to manage change. But if local authorities are to do that effectively, they also have to change,  to meet the demands of the 21st century.

New approaches to planning

At AVDC, like many other local authorities, we’re taking innovative approaches to team structure and staff development so we can ensure we have the skills in place to deliver on our goals of providing strong service to Aylesbury Vale residents and developers, and a high-quality built environment across the district.

For example, we’ve introduced account managers who work closely with major developers to act as dedicated points of contact. We hold regular forums for developers and agents to attend, where we update them on the council’s plans and listen to their ideas and concerns.

We’ve also introduced a parish liaison officer as a point of contact between planners and the 112 parish and town councils in the district. This smoothes communication and increases our understanding of our district.

A supportive and flexible working environment

Of course, we can’t do any of this without the people who work in our planning team. We do everything we can to recruit, support and develop both highly experienced planners and those at the very beginning of their careers.

  • Our Grow Our Own scheme has successfully employed returners to the workforce, as well as school-leavers.  In 2017, we introduced a graduate scheme for the first time, focusing on developing the next generation of planners.
  • We offer a family friendly place to work, and operate flexible working including the ability to work from home.
  • The team has a buddy system which sees each officer have a named colleague as a first point of contact for any technical questions, allowing knowledge and expertise to filter through the team.
  • This is supplemented by regular planned drop-in sessions with senior and principal officers, meaning all staff can continually develop their technical knowledge.

We realise that careers in the public sector come with unique challenges and are not always sweetness and light. That’s why it’s really important for local authorities like AVDC to provide planning officers with every support to meet those challenges and to build rewarding careers working in the public interest.

Don’t just take our word for it…

The efforts we've been making to turn our planning team into one that's ready and eager to meet the modern challenges facing Aylesbury Vale have been recognised by the RTPI. We're really proud to have been shortlisted for the Local Authority Planning Team of the Year in the 2019 RTPI Awards for Planning excellence. Wish us luck!

Aylesbury Vale District Council has kindly sponsored the public sector strand of our Careers Month content.

Talk to us

If you’d like to see what opportunities are currently available within our growing team, or simply to talk about the opportunities we’re offering in public sector planning, then please do:

Careers Month with The Planner

We're dedicating a whole month to looking at careers in planning, from where the opportunities are to what skills are needed now to what the future holds. Check out our Careers Hub to see the range of content that we're publishing throughout February 2019.

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