Chorley Council is one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking local authorities in the country, driving forward some of the most exciting development opportunities in the North West. The council is taking a lead role in changing local government for the better to ensure it becomes self-sufficient and delivers exactly what residents want.
We spoke to Paul Whittingham, planning services manager at Chorley Council, to find out about the principal planning officer and assistant planning officer roles the council is currently recruiting for, which will see the successful candidates delivering, shaping and influencing pivotal developments in the area.
Why would someone want to work at Chorley Council?
Voted as one of the best councils to work for, we put the community at the heart of everything we do. It’s a great time to join our fantastic team - we have recently undergone a significant restructure to set us up to face the challenges ahead and you will become an integral part of the team identifying improvements and driving change.
Chorley is also a great place to live - at the heart of the North West, it’s a city gateway to Manchester and Liverpool, which generates fantastic opportunities for developers wanting to get the best of both worlds. We also offer competitive benefits including a healthcare cash plan, a car lease option for principal officer roles and a committed team that is a joy to be part of.
What roles are you currently recruiting for and what do they involve?
We are currently looking for a principal planning officer and an assistant planning officer. The principal planning position is a key role for the growth and change agenda, working on corporate projects and major applications to deliver growth and employment in the area over the coming years. You will need to manage a small team of planners and be responsible for signing delegated reports. You will also need to represent the council at committees and other meetings and appeals.
The assistant planning officer will play an important role in maintaining the council’s excellent customer service and performance on a range of applications. Chorley has had significant success in developing planning assistants and supporting their RTPI accreditation.
What qualities, skills and aptitudes do these planning professionals need to have?
The roles require officers to be customer and solution focused and to have an eye for design. Commercial awareness is also crucial within these fast paced roles. You need to be dedicated, versatile and creative. Someone with those values and aptitude will fit into our great team of officers who are seeking to deliver the excellent customer service and high quality development that will support the ambitions and expectations of the community. Being adaptable, positive and keen to identify improvements and drive change are qualities that will ensure you are ready for the challenges ahead.
Market Walk extension proposal
What exciting projects are you working on?
With a mix of urban centres and picturesque villages in the borough there is an interesting variety of projects to get involved. Chorley has recently adopted an NPPF compliant Local Plan and is a location experiencing significant growth demand.
We are leading on ambitious schemes to extend the town’s Market Walk shopping centre, develop a digital health park in the borough and unlock key sites that will provide employment and housing for generations to come. These will be high profile developments that the candidates will be involved in shaping, delivering and influencing.
What career development opportunities do you offer?
The council runs its own in-house officer development programme and invests significant time and money into identifying those skills and abilities required to support our ambitions and corporate plan. The council also delivers a tailored training programme throughout the year to achieve these aims. If you identify any training that would be useful for your own career then we will always be keen to listen to ideas and suggestions.
In a nutshell, what is it like working at the council?
It’s a very ambitious authority so the workload can be challenging but it is also immensely rewarding. We are always looking at ways we can provide better services for residents so if you’re passionate about making a difference in the community then this is the place for you. We see the challenges we face as opportunities to do things better and we want to be the best at what we do.
What are your top tips for jobseekers applying for a planning role at the council?
Chorley has a competency-based interview process that seeks to draw out examples of how the candidate is able to demonstrate those competencies that are important to delivering our ambitions. Look at the competencies and identify examples of how and when you demonstrated them. Tell the interviewers about your experiences and skills.