Having joined the Planning Service just over two months ago as a Planning Officer I can vouch for the benefits of ‘learning on the job’ by working in a fast-paced service. The first few weeks have been an extremely interesting experience, and one which I am grateful to have the opportunity to reflect on as part of this blog post.
The variety in development proposals mirrored by the planning applications assigned as part of a diverse case load fills the days. A typical day can include arranging and hosting meetings, attending site meetings and visits, preparing reports as part of the planning assessment process, and working collaboratively with colleagues internally and engaging with external consultees to progress proposals. In my role there is an emphasis on taking ownership of your workload, which encourages continued professional development.
The nature of Edinburgh as a city both physically and geographically presents a unique working environment as a Planner. This is reflected by its wealth of historic assets such as world heritage sites, conservation areas, a high concentration of listed buildings as well as an impressive number of green spaces and multiple walking, cycling and sustainable transport links. These factors present a great opportunity as a Planner to work on a range of projects which bring their own unique considerations and opportunities.
Given the multitude of site constraints and specific considerations for proposals, working within the planning service allows for a high degree of collaboration with specialists, including engagement with external bodies such as Historic Environment Scotland on matters related to the historic environment for example. Working with colleagues who have expert knowledge of areas such as listed buildings, biodiversity, the natural environment, sustainability, active travel, transport planning and many other areas presents a platform to further develop your own knowledge.
Having the opportunity to continue to develop my skill set as a planner has been a positive experience since joining the Council’s Planning Service. By being able to contribute to the general mentoring scheme within the service it has helped to support colleagues as they progress their own careers.
The range of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions and opportunities on offer is another advantage of working within a multi skilled Planning Service. Specialist training workshops are a regular feature and help us to assess proposals and allow team members to further develop their skills and confidence.
The emerging City Plan 2030 also presents an opportunity to implement policies which will shape the future development of the city, building on the key aims of the current Edinburgh Local Development Plan. The focus within City Plan 2030 on promoting a network of 20-minute walkable neighbourhoods, the requirement for new buildings to be net-zero amongst other aims, promotes work on key planning issues, taking account of evolving changes within the built environment.
The above examples provide a snapshot of the numerous opportunities there are working within the Planning Service. As I continue in my role, I look forward to dealing with a variety of exciting projects which draw on my current skills and allow for future growth and development as part of a progressive Planning Service.