Planning a career with vision?

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published On: 9 Jun 2015

Urban Vision is a leading provider of local authority planning services. It was set up 10 years ago as part of a joint venture with Salford City Council, Capita and Galliford Try, and has since grown to meet the demands of Salford and a large number of other clients across the UK. As a result of major expansion, Urban Vision has set up a new office in the Midlands and is looking for four planning professionals to join the team there.

To find out more about the roles, Jennifer Jackson, Careers Content Editor at Planning Jobs, spoke to Stephen Ottewell, Associate Director at Urban Vision. He tells us why it’s an exciting time to join the consultancy and the diverse range of projects that the successful applicants will be working on.

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Stephen Ottewell, Associate Director at Urban Vision

Opportunities to expand your skill-set

The job opportunities with Urban Vision range from an entry level Planning Graduate role through to the senior position of Associate Planning Consultant.

“Around 95% of Urban Vision’s work is with local authorities so for the senior positions in particular, solid experience with local authorities is a must, ideally in comparably senior roles”, explains Ottewell.

“The right candidates will also feel comfortable working across a wide range of projects for a variety of customers and have experience working in different planning contexts.”

Within the planning team, they are looking for people with experience in planning policy or development management, although there is plenty of opportunity to move from one area to another in order to expand on your skill-sets.

Varied projects with a commercial dimension

Urban Vision sees a range of projects coming in all the time, so its planning consultants always have different and interesting work to get their teeth into, from a wide range of DM casework and planning appeals, to supporting local plan preparation including evidence base studies (we are currently working on a Green Belt review study).

Ottewell enthuses: “There is ample opportunity to expand your professional experience regardless of what level you’re at, as the work responds to market opportunities – and that’s constantly changing at a fast pace.”

The work involves a big commercial dimension too, so even though most clients are local authorities, there’s plenty of scope to develop your commercial experience such as financial management or operations management.

Investment in staff training is key to staying up-to-date with the latest trends

Ottewell reflects on the challenges that planning professionals are facing: “One of the biggest challenges we face in this industry is keeping up with the pace of change, as new regulations, guidance and best practice comes in all the time. We do however create a supportive environment whereby we ensure our employees stay up-to-date with the latest trends.”

The company also supports employees with continuous professional development and helps entry level staff to achieve RTPI status. It’s also supporting some members of staff to complete a range of qualifications, including an urban design qualification, a Masters degree in business administration and a postgraduate degree in conservation.

The future of the planning industry

According to Ottewell, the future is bright. Local authorities are recognising Urban Vision’s offering as a sustainable model that can meet their planning needs during peaks in demand to supplement their internal resources.
Ottewell adds: “Our model helps local authorities to balance their resource levels better as they can call upon us whenever required.

“In general, development activities are really picking up and we expect this trend to continue. This presents huge opportunities for planning professionals who want to develop their careers in this industry.”

Visit www.urbanvision.org.uk