Kevin Steptoe, head of planning and building control, at East Herts District Council, explains why the department is looking to expand, and talks about the seven positions available.
Q: Who are you looking for?
A: We have got roles at the grassroots level through to people who have a degree of experience. We are looking to fill seven positions. The reason why there are this is number is because the council at the moment and the councillors here are very keen to put additional resources into our District Plan, which is effectively the Local Plan for the district.
In our policy team we are looking for an assistant planner/technical officer role, three planning officer positions and a senior planning role. On the development management side we have got a role for a planning assistant customer support officer. We also have a senior role, and for this position we are looking for somebody who is going to support a very significant piece of work [the Bishop’s Storford North proposals for 2,200 new homes].
Q: Who would you like to fill those roles?
A: Because we are quite a small organization new employees get exposed to a range of different planning issues and planning jobs fairly quickly. It’s very much all hands on deck. So people who are keen to get stuck in are the sort of people we are looking for. But we will always support new staff, nobody is cut adrift, it is all part of a team.
The best skill we are always looking for is good relationship skills; the ability to convey ideas, communication, relating to people, and being able to have constructive dialogue. These days it’s not about sitting in a darkened office and coming up with bright ideas. It’s about engaging with communities, listening to what they are saying and trying to articulate our views clearly. That’s one of the crunch skills these days.
Q: What can people expect working for East Herts District Council?
A: It’s a very close team and a good working environment. Professionally, there are fantastic opportunities to get involved in a range of planning issues. The team is also well supported by the council. Planning is one of the priorities here, so there is good support across the council as well as in the team.