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Public Practice recruits to boost local authority capacity

Words: Laura Edgar
Work / iStock

Public Practice has issued a call for applications for a new cohort of professionals to start placements at local authorities in December.

This is the fifth drive for a cohort of associates. The built environment professionals will work on a year-long placement in the planning departments of local authorities and other public sector bodies, such as NHS trusts.

Public Practice is seeking applicants with experience in economic development, community engagement, civil engineering, housing delivery and urban health. Associates would be helping authorities tackle the long-term social and economic impacts of Covid-19. These skills are sought in addition to continued demand for planning, urban design, landscape, heritage and environmental expertise.

“Covid-19 is raising fundamental questions about the processes, and even the purpose, of public sector planning,”  said Finn Williams, CEO and co-founder of Public Practice.

“A lot of the speculation about how Covid-19 might change planning and design has been informed by existing opinions rather than the reality on the ground. We wanted to understand how public planning has been impacted by Covid-19 and how we can support the critical work of local authorities by listening to the people who know best – council officers.

“We heard how planning and regeneration officers have brought vital practical and spatial skills to respond to the immediate impacts of Covid-19 from the very beginning of the outbreak. As authorities face the longer-term task of tackling structural inequalities in health, society and the economy exposed by the pandemic, there will be a growing need for a diverse range of built environment practitioners to work directly and collaboratively with communities.”

“The overwhelming impression we gained was that local government is leading new thinking as we look to build back better from Covid-19. People who work within authorities report a renewed atmosphere of purpose and empowerment. There is a sense that many of the answers to the challenges we have yet to overcome will need to come from the public sector and that makes it an exciting prospect for any built environment professional.”

After speaking to the local authorities that have already hosted associates, including Greater Cambridge and inner London boroughs, to learn about how Covid-19 is changing public planning Public Practice set its findings out in a report. These include:

  • Local government is taking a more prominent role in society, and building stronger partnerships with the civic and voluntary sector.
  • The public sector will need to proactively drive development, including housing for the key workers that have been on the front line of the response.
  • High streets and town centres urgently need support and new approaches to find a purpose beyond retail.
  • Authorities need to reintegrate public health and public planning, and align the recovery from Covid-19 with measures that build resilience for the climate emergency.

The full report can be found here on the Public Practice website.

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