Small team, big impact: build a varied planning career in Dartford

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published on: 7 Sep 2015


Dartford Borough is a pioneering council, pursuing a variety of unique projects designed to improve life in the area, making it one of the most exciting places to work in Kent. It is seeking solution-focused planning professionals with an enthusiasm for change to join its expanding planning and regeneration team.

We spoke to Teresa Ryszkowska, head of regeneration at Dartford Borough Council, about the roles and we also got a glimpse of the range of projects being worked on, including the London Paramount theme park, Ebbsfleet Garden City and the regeneration of Dartford Town Centre.



Teresa Ryszkowksa, head of regeneration at Dartford Borough Council


Make a big difference in a small borough

Dartford is a small borough with big plans. The council is currently recruiting for five planning roles to boost its policy, implementation and development management capabilities. These include a planner and senior planner for the major projects team, a planner and senior planner for the planning policy team, and a senior planner for the development management team.

“We have a big job to do here in Dartford”, enthuses Ryszkowska. “We need policy planners who truly want to make a difference, are strategic thinkers and are able to come up with creative solutions to local circumstances, which sometimes buck national trends. Above all, you have to be prepared to respond quickly and positively to change.”

For the major projects team, Ryszkowska explains that “having an eye for design and appreciation of layouts, combined with commercial awareness” will stand you in good stead. Experience in development management and urban design, along with masterplanning qualifications and experience, are also important. Those who are just starting out in the industry may not have this experience but will need to have an aptitude and willingness to learn very quickly.




Be at the forefront of major change

As a place, Dartford is undergoing enormous change, so the new recruits will not only be working in a fast changing industry but there is plenty of scope to get their teeth into a range of exciting projects. They will be at the forefront of changes such as piloting new initiatives in town centre regeneration and major housing and mixed use developments.

“We have to be fleet-footed, adaptable and flexible, in order to stay ahead of the changes and seize opportunities for our area”, says Ryszkowska. “It’s not enough to simply respond to change but we need to be proactively ahead of transformation and to embrace it positively - that is something we’re very proud of doing very well here at Dartford Council.”

Join an integrated team that is going places

Working as part of a small and friendly team, the new recruits will have the opportunity to gain a breadth of experience across a variety of projects and will benefit from the expertise of colleagues from different specialisms.

As Ryszkowska explains: “We work in a very integrated way here at Dartford, which means our policy planners gain on the ground coal-face feedback from the development management team, and in turn, the development management planners gain valuable policy knowledge, enabling them to think about each application in the wider context of its cumulative impact on the community.”

By working in such a close team, junior planners benefit from continuous development and mentoring opportunities, learning from the wealth of experience and knowledge that senior planners can offer them. Meanwhile, senior planners can enjoy a high level of autonomy.


The QE2 Bridge


Drive projects that will positively impact the borough

One of the most exciting projects planners are working on is the £3bn London Paramount theme park. This will be the largest leisure resort in England, situated on a 900-acre brownfield site, and is estimated to create up to 27,000 jobs. Other significant projects include working alongside the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation on the first of the new wave of garden cities - a major area of regeneration on brownfield land, which will create 15,000 homes, jobs and leisure facilities.

A key part of the planner’s role is to ensure that the people of the borough reap the maximum benefits from such projects. This could involve anything from ensuring the most sustainable transport solutions, securing green networks, and ensuring local people can benefit from the training and employment opportunities created by development.

Ryszkowska comments: “The planners will be pivotal in ensuring the projects create a high quality of life that people in the area aspire to. However, each project should not be looked at in isolation. The planners will have the crucial role of resolving the infrastructure challenges which result from the huge amount of growth in the Borough and ensuring that the large new developments are well-integrated with each other and with existing communities. In short, that the Borough as a whole functions well on a practical level.”

Dartford is already an ideal place to be based, with fast links to central London and Paris on HS1. However, the council is promoting new transport infrastructure, including extension of Crossrail to Dartford that will further improve connections to London; and additions to the award-winning Fastrack bus service which links the major new developments with existing communities. Planners will require strong influencing and communication skills and partnership working to bring these projects to fruition.

Top tips for applying

Ryszkowska offers the following advice for candidates wishing to apply for a planning role at Dartford Borough Council:

  • Make sure you can answer yes to these questions: Do you have a positive attitude to change? Do you genuinely want to make a difference? Do you thrive in a busy and challenging working environment?
  • Ensure your application is well presented, succinct and focuses on the most relevant points for the role - don’t just list a catalogue of everything you’ve ever done
  • Demonstrate what you can bring to the role that makes you stand out from others
  • Provide evidence of your ability to see the bigger picture (examples can be non work related)
  • For senior planner roles, demonstrate your experience of working on major projects

To apply for a planning role at Dartford Borough Council, please visit by Thursday 8th October 2015.