What is it like to work at Epping Forest District Council?
Published: 09 May 2018 By Jennifer Jackson
We spoke to Nigel Richardson, assistant director, development management, for insider insight into working for the planning team at Epping Forest District Council.
Epping Forest District Council office exterior
Epping Forest District Council is a dynamic organisation committed to recruiting and retaining the best staff and developing their careers and potential. The area is a beautiful place to live and work, stretching northward from its southern boundary with Greater London, right into the heart of rural Essex.
The council is experiencing growth like never before and is currently looking for individuals with masterplanning experience and commercial skills to join its new multidisciplinary implementation team. We spoke to Nigel Richardson, assistant director, development management, to find out more about the roles and what it’s like to work at the council.
Tell me more about Epping Forest District Council and the work you do
This is an exciting time for the council as we are working hard to bring forward transformational growth across the district. This includes delivering the proposed growth for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, of which a significant proportion falls within this district.
Our Local Plan is well advanced - we are now preparing for the forthcoming independent examination and towards implementation. As a green belt authority, the level of growth delivered in recent years has been low but we need a step change to deliver the proposed growth within the Local Plan. This will require community engagement and delivery of infrastructure to create well-functioning and well designed communities.
What roles are you currently recruiting for and what do they involve?
To support this work the council has agreed to establish a new multidisciplinary implementation team who will deliver the Local Plan’s vision and objections and ensure high quality outcomes, as well as deliver the necessary infrastructure – including schools, health provision, green infrastructure and transport across the district. We are looking for:
- 1 implementation team manager
- 2 principal planning officers (one of these posts will sit within the policy team
- 1 strategic infrastructure and section 106 officer
- 1 planning solicitor
- 1 project coordinator
The implementation team manager will be responsible for building the team and maintaining good working relationships with all stakeholders. They will be supported by two principal planning officers who will have the skills to work with minimal supervision and will be able to build excellent internal and external networks.
The strategic infrastructure and section 106 officer will be a skilled negotiator and have a sound understanding of the legal framework surrounding planning obligations. The planning solicitor will be based in the council’s legal team, but will be required to work collaboratively with the implementation team and build a strong working relationship.
We are also looking for a project coordinator to support the work of the team, including preparing masterplans and concept frameworks and monitoring progress on the Planning Performance Agreements. In addition to the posts advertised, the team has an urban design officer, conservation officer and drainage officer.
On site - Epping Forest District Council
What kind of people are you looking for?
We’re looking for candidates with a ‘can do’ approach who are enthusiastic, motivated, diligent and able to work with minimal supervision. We want thoughtful and effective communicators who will work in partnership with our residents, developers and other stakeholders to deliver the best outcomes for Epping Forest District. You will need excellent people skills, political and commercial awareness and emotional intelligence, as well as sound technical knowledge and practical ability.
We will expect the appointed candidates to quickly build strong relationships with stakeholders, as well as having a demonstrable track record in masterplanning and infrastructure delivery. Communication and tenacity are the key skills you will need to achieve a positive outcome in one of these exciting roles.
What do you think makes a 'wonderful workplace'?
Working with dynamic, motivated colleagues, together with a varied and challenging workload, makes for a wonderful workplace. At EFDC we have both, and whilst we will expect a lot from the new team, the council has committed to ensuring it has the support network and tools it needs to achieve its objectives.
Why would someone want to work for Epping Forest District Council?
This is an exciting time for the district with the delivery of a new, government-backed Garden Town at Harlow and Gilston and a number of other strategic sites across the district. The district has not previously experienced growth of this scale before, and we are determined that it delivers a step change in design quality and outcomes for our residents. You will therefore play a key role in delivering this.
What exciting projects are you working on?
Undoubtedly, one of the main projects is the Garden Town at Harlow and Gilston, of which a substantial part falls within the Epping Forest District. We are working with promoters to ensure that this is more than an urban extension and instead creates a new, sustainable Garden Town Community that also supports the regeneration of Harlow.
In addition, the three councils and two counties are looking to secure funding to implement sustainable transport corridors and to secure significant modal shift to non car modes of transport. Other significant infrastructure projects include the redevelopment or relocation of the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Elsewhere in the district we have a number of other strategic sites that require collaborative working with stakeholders to deliver the infrastructure that our settlements need. We have recently established a Quality Review Panel for both the Garden Town and the district to inform the production of the strategic masterplans, concept frameworks and other planning proposals at key stages in the process.
What opportunities for training and development do you offer?
The council has an in-house training programme to support professional development, and team members will be encouraged to make full use of this.
What top tips would you offer those interested in applying?
We are really interested in hearing from people who have strong masterplanning experience coupled with commercial awareness. Our Local Plan sets out our policy aspirations and we would advise applicants to fully understand what the Local Plan is trying to achieve. We want candidates to consider the role fully and think about how they can help implement our vision.
Sum up what it's like to work at Epping
The council offices are based in Epping which has an excellent Central Line service to Liverpool Street (38 minutes) and Oxford Circus (48 minutes). This makes the commute into and out of London manageable. Epping town centre has a good range of shopping facilities, cafes and restaurants.
The council has a subsidised canteen, a generous annual leave scheme, flexible working arrangements, child care vouchers and is a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme. The standard working week is 36 hours.
Planning Jobs has launched a new campaign called 'Wonderful Workplaces' to get planning consultancies and local authorities enthused about showcasing their employer brand. For more information, visit the Wonderful Workplaces section here.