The Sedgemoor District in Somerset is experiencing unprecedented growth and as a result three Senior Planning positions have opened up. Planning’s Careers Content editor, Antje Derks sat down with Sedgemoor District Policy Manager , Nick Tait to find out about the opportunities, the plans for Sedgemoor and what working in the heart of Somerset would be like.
What is happening in Sedgemoor District at the moment and why is there such huge growth there currently?
Sedgemoor District is experiencing unprecedented growth with record numbers of new homes being delivered and major new employment schemes built or in the pipeline. Sedgemoor is only eight miles from Hinkley Point C where the UK’s first ‘next generation’ nuclear power station is being constructed. The district will need to accommodate over 20,000 temporary workers over the ten year construction period as well as hosting a range of related supply chain businesses.
The District Council is a pro-business Authority with an impressive track record of delivering regeneration and new growth - even during the recent recession. However, the district also includes national and internationally important landscapes including the Somerset Levels and Moors and two Areas of outstanding natural beauty – the Quantock Hills and the Mendips. Protecting and enhancing these landscapes as well as the extensive coastline is also a vitally important part of our remit.
Tell me more about the three positions you are looking to fill
We have three Senior Planning posts within the Strategy and Development Group. One of these is within the Major Projects Team that deals directly with all planning related matters associated with the Hinkley Point C nuclear new build project. In addition the team is also heavily involved in another nationally significant infrastructure project - the new national grid connection.
The Senior Planning Post in the Development Management Team will have a varied and interesting case load. The successful candidate will be involved in the full range of development management work - from the provision of pre-application advice, dealing with applications, through to handling appeals where necessary.
Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant
The Policy Senior Planner will have a key role in progressing the review of the existing core strategy adopted in 2011 with a particular emphasis on housing related matters. They will also provide project management support for the preparation of statutory and non-statutory planning documents. The post holder will assist with the maintenance of essential monitoring systems including the Council’s 5 year housing land supply.
What do your ideal candidates look like?
For all three positions, we need candidates who are qualified to degree level in town and country planning or a related discipline. They should be able to demonstrate knowledge of planning legislation and guidance.
For the Development Management post, previous experience of dealing with a range of planning issues in a development management and planning environment would be expected.
The policy post requires knowledge of the plan making process and ideally an understanding and interest in housing related matters - such as the calculation of the five year housing land supply - would be very advantageous.
The Major Projects post combines both policy and development management tasks and therefore sound knowledge across this wider planning context, including a basic understanding of the separate development consent order processes will be necessary.
All three roles require candidates who are self-starters that can hit the ground running. We want to see bags of enthusiasm with a flexible approach to working hours and be a team player.
What is it like to work at Sedgemoor District Council?
The Council offices are in Bridgwater town centre - the administrative and commercial heart of the district. Bridgwater is an historic markets town with many outstanding protected listed buildings and a rich industrial past based upon the former port and brick and tile industries. It is also host to the famous Bridgwater Carnival, the largest illuminated carnival in Europe.
Today it is the focus for growth occupying an outstanding strategic location with direct links to the M5 motorway and the mainline railway that links to Bristol to the north and Exeter and to the South.
It is also home to Bridgwater College – one of the best further education establishments in the country, offering courses including engineering that tie in with the growth projections in the area.
Sedgemoor District is a mixture of rural tranquillity and stunning coastlines, yet only half an hour from Bristol and everything a major city has to offer.
Brean Down pebble beach
The Council itself has a focus on high quality services whilst seeking to keep the cost to local council tax payers amongst the lowest in the country. It has implemented an ambitious programme of efficiency improvements to ensure that it can continue to deliver its key priorities of housing and economic growth. It prides itself on its investment in staff and was awarded an ‘Investors in People’ Gold Award.
The Strategy and Development Group is responsible for a wide range of multi-million pound investment proposals. For a district this size - the scale, value and significance of development is unprecedented. Being directly involved with major schemes is hugely rewarding and makes for an exciting and dynamic workplace.
Added to this the team is relaxed, yet dynamic. We are full of good humour ,and a flexible approach to working hours and encourage appropriate home working making use of our mobile technology.
What sort of benefits come with these roles?
The Major Projects and Development Management posts have a salary of £30,311 to £33,128 (pay award pending); the planning policy post has a salary of £27,323 to £29,528 (pay award pending).
In addition, we offer a relocation package, childcare vouchers, a bike to work scheme, flexi-time and a generous holiday allowance that increases with length of service. You will also be eligible to join the generous career average local government pension scheme.
If you think you might like to be at the forefront of change, click here for more information on how to apply.