The Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames is an ambitious London borough with a substantial growth and regeneration agenda. It’s one of few UK councils that is experiencing a high demand for more housing and job growth is on the up. As such, they are looking for commercially-astute planning professionals to help deliver a variety of regeneration and investment projects.
We spoke to Eric Owens, from Kingston Council’s development planning and regeneration team, for a glimpse into the sheer variety of projects the new recruits will be involved in, including the new Local Plan, business incubators, a new mixed use development including a bus station and Crossrail 2. He also shares his tips for candidates applying for the roles.
Shape the future of a royal borough
Kingston Council aims to drive positive change and growth for the royal borough. While other councils are cutting jobs, it is creating more. The new posts that have been created in the development planning and regeneration team will see the successful candidates shape the future of Kingston. The roles include lead officer for investment and regeneration, regeneration officer, urban design officer, economic development officer and strategic policy officer.
Owens tells us: “We aim to shape the environment in which we work - we want to make projects happen and see them through from conception to completion. Our emerging partnership network is helping us immensely, enabling us to facilitate and support others to achieve the high ambitions for the area.”
Gain on-the-ground experience
Over the past year, the team has increasingly developed a “place-shaping mentality”, as Owens describes it, whereby they have focused more than ever before on delivering projects “on-the-ground” and adopted a greater project management focus.
Owens explains: “As we become increasingly market-facing, the challenge is for the team to understand commercial reality, deliver high quality projects on the ground, implement new policies and have the people skills to be able to work with others effectively.”
A great social and learning culture
The council’s planning team prides itself on three things when it comes to their working culture. Owens tells us what these are: “Firstly, we have a great team - we like socialising together and we’re used to working under pressure with smiles on our faces.
“Secondly, the town of Kingston is a great place to work in with an abundance of shops and restaurants. We’re also on the Thames, benefit from various cycle routes and are situated close (25 minutes on the train) to Central London.
“And thirdly, we have a strong learning culture - we teach each other and learn from each others’ experiences through regular team meetings and peer-to-peer learning sessions.”
Solutions-focused, resilient and up for a challenge
The team delivers high quality development projects and therefore needs the right skills to deliver them effectively. Some examples of current and future projects that the new recruits may be involved in include promoting and shaping Crossrail 2, a mixed use project involving a new local bus station and delivering the home of the 'Gloriana' - the Queen’s Jubilee rowing barge.
Owens explains the types of skills required to implement such projects: “We need a mix of people with at least three-to-five years experience from commercial or local government backgrounds, who are up for a challenge. They need to be solutions-focused with good initiative, have high resilience and have good people skills.
“We don’t just need traditional planners, we need people who understand the implications and opportunities created by the of Government’s de-regulation, which is a continuing trend in the industry.”
Top tips for applying
Owens offers the following three tips for those wishing to apply for a planning role with Kingston Council:
- Look at the Kingston Futures website to gain an appreciation of Kingston Council’s vision and ambition
- Reflect on how your skills and experience can add value to the Kingston Futures initiative
- Consider how Kingston Council can add value to your career. For example, how would you benefit from mentoring?
Click here to apply for one of the planning jobs at Kingston Council.