Announcement comes soon after Labour pledges to boost number of planners

2_Autumn 2023 Cohort_Photo by Dion Barrett

Source: Dion Barrett

Public Practice’s autumn 2023 cohort

Public Practice is set to bolster the planning and urban design expertise within the public sector by welcoming 29 new associates to its ranks. They will be distributed among 27 English local authorities.

The recruitment drive represents a further expansion of Public Practice across England, with this cohort marking a partnership with nine additional local authorities, including Somerset, Rugby Borough, Rochdale Borough, and Middlesbrough Councils.

Public Practice states that there remains a strong demand for skills in urban design and planning, and the current cohort spans various roles, ranging from regeneration to the creation of active and healthy spaces and achieving net zero goals.

The announcement by Public Practice follows shadow-chancellor Rachel Reeves’s comments at this week’s party conference, where she suggested that an in-coming Labour government would be committed to creating a pipeline of new planning professionals.

>> Also read: Labour to hire hundreds of more planning officers to speed up decisions

Earlier this year, Public Practice received a £1 million funding boost from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). This funding has been instrumental in extending the reach of the Associate Programme, which is now accessible to local authorities in all regions of England.

The Associate Programme seeks to play a pivotal role in enhancing placemaking capabilities within the public sector by placing skilled candidates in year-long placements with local authorities. These placements are coupled with a learning and development course, offering the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded professionals.

Since its inception in 2017, Public Practice has deployed 320 Associates to 87 local authorities in England, with 77% remaining in the public sector for more than two years after completing the 12-month programme.

Public Practice recently published its 2023 Recruitment & Skills report, which identified various challenges in resourcing and recruitment within the built environment sector. The report indicated a demand for skilled professionals in areas such as sustainability, urban design, and masterplanning, with planning roles being the most frequently recruited positions. 

Pooja Agrawal, CEO of Public Practice said: “This is our first national cohort and I am delighted to be welcoming nine new English local authorities to Public Practice, and bringing multidisciplinary experts to areas of the country where they can have maximum impact. We know that local authorities are facing many recruitment challenges and their biggest issue is difficulty attracting qualified and skilled candidates.

“We are committed to attracting highly-skilled placemaking professionals into the public sector and I continue to be inspired by the motivated Associates joining our programme, who are driven to have more purpose in their work and shape places across England for the better. Each Associate is taking a big leap in their career by joining a local authority. Our aim is to support these individuals to develop their placemaking skills for long-term careers in the public sector.”