Planning Officer, Chiltern District Council
I was introduced to planning during my degree in Environmental Sciences at Brighton University. I considered a career in planning within the public sector would be worthwhile and interesting, with the opportunity to positively contribute to shaping and securing benefits for communities whilst also being involved in wider sustainability issues. I began as a development control Planning Officer in 2004, with no previous experience. As a planning novice, I built my knowledge through experience, with an initial workload of fairly simple householder applications.
[pictured above] Rosie Foreman with mentor, Richard Turnbull, Development Control Manager at Chiltern District Council.
I gained an MSc in Spatial Planning from Oxford Brookes in 2007, which gave me an understanding of the wider context of local authority planning. I also broadened my experience by moving authorities, and later became a Senior Planning Officer. I now deal with the most complex applications and enquiries received by the Council and enjoy the challenges of balancing the needs and expectations of stakeholders with the demands and requirements of the economy.
My experiences have shown me how clear, strong policies, including the Government commitment to good design, contribute to developments that are appropriate and enhance the local area. On reflection, I was right to anticipate that the work would be interesting- I have a varied workload and there is always new legislation, guidance, appeals and court decisions to absorb. I look forward to continuing to develop my career in planning, and gaining further experience in other related disciplines.
Rosie's advice for new candidates:
- Wait until you are ready - Although I was technically eligible to apply for chartered membership in 2009, I did not feel that I had gained enough experience to meet the required criteria, particularly in terms of leadership. However, once I had taken on a senior role I found that the tasks in my logbook were becoming more varied in terms of the skills I was using and developing and I felt more confident in making an application for chartered membership.
- Write in your own style - I found it difficult to summarise many of the tasks in my logbook into brief bullet points, while still getting across my role in the task, the knowledge and skills used, what I learned etc. My logbook therefore ended up being longer and in a more conversational style than I would have liked and I was worried that this might not be what the assessors were looking for.
- Always keep relevant skills and competencies in mind - It's easy to just get on with what you are doing without realising the different skills and competencies you are using. I had the list of relevant planning skills (page 10 of the Becoming a Chartered Town Planner guidance) pinned up next to my desk when I was filling out the logbook, to remind me to think about and analyse what I was doing.
- Start with the PDP - Although the logbook and written submission need to feed into the PDP, you should have one already as a licentiate, and this will be a good starting point for assessing your strengths and weaknesses, which will help you with the professional competence statement.
- Making use of your Mentor - Through discussing my PDP and work experience with my mentor, I realised that I sometimes underplayed my accomplishments and achievements.
Please note: To stay fit for purpose, L-APC requirements do change over time. For the most up to date advice please always refer to the L-APC Guidance on the Licenitate APC webpage. Candidate details provided here are current at time of L-APC submission in 2012.