Rob Jarman is head of planning and development at Maidstone Borough Council. He is in charge of delivering the council’s local plan. His role also covers building regulations, heritage, landscape and design and all planning administration.
Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
My targets include delivery of government planning performance targets, including the council’s success rate at appeal. We monitor every application we can get live data on – we take performance very seriously.
Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives?
Listen to people. That might sound glib, but it’s important to consider what people have to say. It’s very important to be respectful to the public, developers and councillors.
Don’t just look at today, look at tomorrow. Keep an eye on trends. Sometimes there is pressure to make decisions in line with short-term interests, but housing need and the need to tackle congestion are not going to go away. There is a need for more housing as the population is going up. So with each planning application that comes in, I look for contributions to improve the transport network because each new development will add to traffic.
Always stick to your values. I have a qualification in urban design. For me personally, it is very important to have good, modern design. It’s important to stick to that. We work very closely with architecture advisory body Design South East. Once a development has been built out, we take councillors around to see it. We are trying to break down future confrontations. Change can be a good thing, that’s what placemaking is about.