Trainee Planning Specialist

NatureSpace Partnership

£25,750 pa, rising to £30,900 pa, 4-day week + company benefits

Paid • Full Time • Permanent

Sectors: conservation & wildlife, ecology

Closing date: Monday, 27th May 2024  

How to apply: Send your CV and a covering letter to [email protected] by 9:00am on Monday 27th May 2024. Your subject line should include the job title you are applying for. Please let us know if you require any assistance in the application process so that we can make reasonable adjustments.

Salary: £25,750 pa, rising to £30,900 pa*, 4-day week + company benefits

Duration: Full time (32hrs, 4-day week**)

*after successful completion of 1 year probation there is an expectation for the role to become permanent at Officer grade, salary £30,900.

** We are conducting a gold standard 4-day week trial until 31st December 2024, with possibility to become a permanent change. Full time hours outside of the trial are 40hrs per week, Monday to Friday.

Location: Flexible within the UK, home-based.

The role

This role offers a unique opportunity to contribute to a successful strategic species conservation strategy by supporting colleagues with essential knowledge and guidance on the UK planning system. The NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme is fundamentally linked with the planning system whereby development is authorised to use the licensing scheme primarily via development consents.

The primary function of this role is to support the senior planning specialist with the increasing needs of a rapidly growing company – the technical and operations teams handle a varied workload and require significant planning support. This can vary from providing knowledge and understanding of the planning application and decision-making process, helping distinguish application types, guiding on appropriate timelines for decisions, to interpreting permitted development rights and explaining planning terms.

We’re looking for a well-organised, good communicator who can provide a fundamental level of daily operational planning support to colleagues, alongside working on tasks and projects that require planning input to improve efficiency.

A basic understanding of planning law and practice is required for this role, you will be fully supported by the Senior Planning Specialist but with an expectation that you have a good grasp of basic planning principles. You will develop core competencies to consolidate your skills and build confidence and expertise with the support of the Senior Planning Specialist.

The successful candidate will be enthusiastic, capable and passionate about planning with a keen interest in biodiversity and sustainable development.

The planning specialists form part of the Strategy Team within NatureSpace with its key priority to provide guidance and support across the company. This is a new full-time trainee role within the team and will be line managed by the Senior Planning Specialist.

Key responsibilities:

  • Assisting the Senior Planning Specialist to provide planning support across all teams as necessary.
  • Help with the preparation, review and delivery of internal planning training, including organising training sessions and helping to design presentations.
  • Help to ensure that important records are kept up-to-date and assist with the quality assurance process to maintain high-quality data.
  • Help to review and disseminate planning news, updates and guidance to the team and other key information.
  • Assisting the Senior Planning Specialist with a variety of work as necessary, including administration, communications, data entry, organising meetings, taking meeting notes, updating and monitoring progress towards key planning projects and wider company projects as required.
  • Ensure effective communications and information-sharing across the company at large and engage with partners and clients (in time).

Essential skills, knowledge, and experience:

  • Qualified to at least degree standard in a relevant discipline (such as Town and Country Planning/Environmental Planning) or can demonstrate equivalent working knowledge and experience to be considered a suitable candidate
  • Excellent time management and organisational skills and the ability to respond to changing and challenging priorities within set timescales
  • Good level of understanding of the role that local planning authorities play in making decisions about new developments in England
  • Knowledge of the English planning system – both the planning application process, and a familiarity with planning law to enable support to the wider team on matters relating to planning application types, use classes and permitted development
  • Good IT skills and competent in using Microsoft 365 package, including Word, Excel, Teams, Outlook and PowerPoint
  • Effective communicator with good inter-personal skills, able to liaise proactively and confidently with a range of people, both in written and verbal formats
  • A positive, enthusiastic and self-motivated individual that has the ability to work independently with day-to-day supervision
  • Able to cope with remote working with limited opportunities for in-person meetings and events throughout the year (e.g. company days)

Desirable skills, knowledge, and experience: 

  • Experience of supporting team members within the planning or environment sector
  • A basic understanding of environmental assessment, biodiversity conservation, protected species and licensing
  • Enthusiasm for wildlife conservation in the UK. Conservation is at the heart of what we do.

Company background

Great crested newts have declined dramatically in the UK over the last 50 years and although still widespread across lowland England they are no longer common. Despite protection under UK and European wildlife law, numbers are still declining, and habitat loss is their biggest threat.

In 2018 the NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme was launched – set up in partnership with national freshwater and amphibian Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as well as seven local planning authorities across the South Midlands. Since then, the scheme has expanded nationally and now covers over 60 local planning authorities across Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

The scheme allows planning authorities to authorise (under strictly defined terms) activities which affect great crested newts at the same time as they grant planning permission. The District Licensing Scheme has significant advantages for newt conservation and wider biodiversity benefits through a fully funded region-wide conservation strategy that creates high-quality habitat at a landscape scale and delivers long-term management and monitoring for newts, which is delivered via our partners at the Newt Conservation Partnership. The scheme benefits developers because the licensing process for great crested newts is simplified and streamlined.

NatureSpace also work with national infrastructure providers, such as Network Rail, to help them secure and deliver 'Organisational Licences' for protected species with the same conservation deliverables. The schemes are administered by NatureSpace, are regulated, and approved by Natural England and are supported by the country’s leading amphibian and freshwater NGOs – the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and Freshwater Habitats Trust.

Company culture, employment benefits and location

NatureSpace Partnership is a small (c.50 staff) but busy and rapidly growing company. Being a small organisation, everyone has a big say in what we do and how we do it. Our agility and size mean that your voice will be heard, and you will have the opportunity to directly see the results of your work.

Work/life balance is important to us. We actively support flexible working arrangement so that our work fits in with our lives and we are open to exploring how this role could best work for you.

The successful candidate/s will be joining a friendly, close-working team of home-workers and will have responsibility for managing their workload and working independently as part of a dispersed national team. The post requires high levels of motivation and high standards of self-management. Location is flexible within the UK - this post will be mainly desk-based but some travelling to meetings will be required, generally across central England.

NatureSpace embraces equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion and we welcome applications from all suitable qualified and experienced individuals. To build a team of the most talented employees, NatureSpace is committed to being a flexible employer and we place considerable emphasis on wellbeing and job satisfaction.

We offer a significant benefits package for all staff including flexible working with an extended 4-day working week trial during 2024, time off-in-lieu (TOIL) or overtime pay (in agreement with your line manager), 20 annual leave days (which equates to 5-weeks off per year in light of the 4-day working week, plus bank holidays, weekday birthdays and additional holiday over the Christmas period), an annual performance bonus of up to 20% of your pay, company pension contributions, company private health and life insurance, plus the option to join our electric vehicle salary sacrifice scheme.

Applicants must have the legal right to live and work in the UK.

Closing date for applications: 9am on Monday 27th May 2024

Interview dates: You will be notified by Wednesday 5th June 2024 if you have been selected for interview. Interviews are likely to be held virtually (via Microsoft Teams) week commencing 17th June 2024.

Expected start date: 1st August 2024