We spoke to Leigh Nicholson at Thurrock Council about what it’s like to work there and the planning career opportunities on offer.
Thurrock Council is a unitary authority in South Essex. Its planning service is responsible for delivering some of the most complex and exciting planning schemes in the country, according to its assistant director of planning, transport and public protection, public realm, Leigh Nicholson.
Leigh, tell us more about Thurrock Council and what it has to offer planning professionals
Thurrock presents a unique opportunity because of its geography and vibrant mix of industrial, riverfront, urban and rural communities. Huge investment is planned and we need to meet the demand and expectations to ensure the right development takes place at the right time, in the right location. Our planners are involved in a varied range of schemes, from house extensions and energy schemes to nationally significant infrastructure projects and everything between.
What roles are you currently recruiting for and what do they involve?
Owing to the scale of the agenda, we have positions at varying levels; with opportunities to be involved in major application project work, enforcement or mainstream development management. In particular, we are looking to expand our major application team to handle a number of significant scale development schemes, having recently handled two NSIP projects with more in the pipeline.
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What kind of people are you looking for?
We are looking for ambitious, talented individuals with a passion for planning and shaping places that will help us deliver high quality developments throughout the borough. Successful candidates will have a can-do attitude, be adaptable, resilient and enthusiastic to be part of a busy but rewarding team.
We pride ourselves on our ability to balance high performance, in terms of determining applications on time, with high quality development as the result. Customer service is very important to us, and successful candidates will be prepared to ‘go the extra mile’. Importantly, we are looking for people with the right mindset.
Why would someone want to work for Thurrock Council?
The council’s vision is: an ambitious and collaborative community which is proud of its heritage and excited by its diverse opportunities and future.
Working for Thurrock provides the perfect environment to progress your planning career and skills. Our growth programme is possibly the largest and most ambitious in the country. £6 billion has already been invested by the private sector in Thurrock up to 2017, with more than 1,000 acres of land ready for commercial development and no fewer than three international ports. We expect a further 30,000 new jobs to be created by 2037.
Our offices are located just 25 minutes from London, offering modern, flexible, hybrid working arrangements. Striking the right balance between home life and work life is very important to us and you will be supported to make sure that you thrive in our organisation.
What exciting projects are you working on?
The new local plan is set to create a blueprint for ‘good growth’ which, coupled with ASELA programmes and the Thames Freeport, Thurrock offers a superb range of planning opportunities.
Through the new local plan, planners will be responsible for shaping developments ranging from new settlements and urban extensions to rural schemes. We have an ambitious regeneration programme delivering exciting new developments from towns funds in Grays and Tilbury to the council’s own house building programme.
The Thames Freeport is set to invest over £4.5 billion in new public and private investment, bringing forward 1,700 acres of land for new development. The Freeport provides a genuinely unique opportunity to be involved in some of the most high-profile developments in the country.
What opportunities for training and development are there?
You will find an incredibly supportive team environment where you will be encouraged and supported to achieve your career ambitions. We recognise the importance of professional accreditation and will reimburse the costs of RTPI membership. We are proud to ‘grow our own’ planners. In-house training coupled with a strong network of like-minded individuals provides a strong basis for career development and progression.
What tips would you offer applicants?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone! We encourage all our planners to be involved in major applications, whether in a supporting or leading role. Our planners are actively encouraged to stretch their capabilities in a collaborative and supportive professional environment.
Being part of the planning service means being part of #TeamThurrock which has a strong proactive ethos. We are encouraging planners from all walks of life to start a conversation with us to see how they might be able to be part of our team.
Sum up what it’s like to work for Thurrock Council
Challenging, busy and very rewarding. It would be hard to find a more progressive, forward thinking local planning authority with the scale of agenda and ambition to match.
>> Check out the development management planning jobs at Thurrock Council <<
If the current vacancies aren’t for you, sign up here and Thurrock Council will be in touch with any relevant opportunities for you in the future.