Grow your planning career in spacious surroundings with Aitchison Raffety

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published on: 5 Sep 2016

Aitchison Raffety logo

Aitchison Raffety, formerly known as Brian Barber Associates, is a well established and high quality professional planning consultancy. It is currently recruiting for a planner and a senior planner to undertake a range of exciting projects, from designing the UK’s first underwater house to appealing for seasonal gypsy and traveller pitches.

We spoke to Matthew Taylor, associate director at Aitchison Raffety, about the exciting planning roles they are recruiting for

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor, associate director, Aitchison Raffety

Tell me more about Aitchison Raffety

We have been located in Northamptonshire for over 30 years and the planning division has recently expanded with offices now spread across the South East of England. The Northampton office currently consists of a dynamic team of five that aims to play an integral part in shaping the growth of the local area. The work is principally focused within the East Midlands and Home Counties, although national clients allow for a broader geographic area of work. Reflecting this, both individual and team projects are undertaken on a regular basis, offering the chance to learn from colleagues on a wide range of planning projects. This includes both private and public projects, typically for residential, employment, leisure and retail uses.

What is the working environment like?

The Northampton office provides a friendly and open plan working environment within a converted barn on a small office park adjacent to Pitsford Reservoir. There is a relaxed ambience to the office with everyone getting on well. Food and snack vans visit the site daily and we’re close to Northampton and surrounding villages for access to all other services including the national highway network, just without the troublesome daily commutes with everyone else to the town centre. The calming rural environment offers a refreshing alternative to the congested city locations. 

Why would someone want to work at your planning consultancy in particular?

Aside from the friendly working environment and relaxed surroundings, the company offers a range of competitive salaries and benefits, including performance bonuses, pension contributions and professional membership subscriptions. Flexible working hours are possible, allowing personal matters to be accommodated as necessary. The management is always supportive of any issues which arise, making it seem more like a second family on occasion. We have a group mentality when it comes to achieving targets, so projects are spread amongst all employees, without the boss ‘cherry picking’ all the best ones!

What roles are you currently recruiting for?

We are looking to recruit two new staff: a senior planner and a planner. The roles will initially support the managing director and associate directors with matters such as pre-application enquiries, planning research, preparation of planning/design and access statements, planning appraisals and policy representations. The roles involve both office and field work, as well as attending meetings as necessary. The senior planner will be expected to have more prior experience than the planner and will assume greater responsibility from the outset. As both roles gain more experience and increase contact with clients, there will be a greater emphasis on managing individual projects. The long term aim is to establish your own client base and consequently be well placed for promotion within the company.   

What qualities, skills and aptitudes do these planning professionals need to have?

The roles require professional qualifications to be held in town planning. Membership of the RTPI is preferable but is not essential. Experience within a planning office would be ideal, but not essential for the more junior position. Applicants will be expected to be dedicated, versatile and creative, reflecting the need to be able to undertake a wide range of projects in numerous topic areas. The ability to manage your own time, prioritise projects and work both individually and as part of team, is key. Good verbal skills for communication with clients and other professionals forms a core part to being able to provide the excellent service to our clients that we always strive to attain.  

What exciting projects are you working on?

Every project is different so holds its own interest. A snapshot of just some of our current exciting projects include:

  • Design and planning input to what is hoped to be the UK’s first underwater house. It will also be off-grid and hopefully trial underwater solar panels (Derbyshire)
  • An appeal for seasonal gypsy and traveller pitches (Hertfordshire)
  • Phase 2 residential developments adjacent to rural villages, including 26 dwellings in Oxfordshire and 13 in Leicestershire. 
  • Various applications for upgrading facilities at a Premier League football club (London)
  • A new service area in the Green Belt (Kent)
  • Redevelopment of a former brickworks site for industrial start-up units (Leicestershire)

What career development opportunities do you offer?

Aitchison Raffety is somewhere you can have a job for life, should this be your desire, and we have an ‘open door’ policy where help is at hand at all times. Our business model is designed to develop each and every employee professionally and we have a good training budget to support this. Recent appointments have been assisted in acquiring RTPI membership, along with gaining experience and knowledge through first-hand experience of projects and appeals. As employees gain more experience, knowledge and contacts, there is scope to earn promotion. This cyclical approach then allows for the expansion of the company and a new junior appointment for the more senior role to manage. This structure works well; I have risen from planner to associate director since joining the company in 2012. 

In a nutshell, what is it like working at Aitchison Raffety?

Every project and every day is different in the office - you simply cannot get bored! The surrounding environment also offers a pleasant working atmosphere, with spacious settings both inside and outside the office walls. 

What are your top tips for jobseekers applying for a planning role at Aitchison Raffety?

We are looking to appoint as soon as possible, so send us your CV without delay – we will be holding interviews with suitable candidates before the end of the advertisement period. 

Have you got what it takes? Click on the link below to view the job specification and apply.

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