Principal Planning Officer

Near Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
circa £36,000 pro-rata depending upon experience
19 Apr 2021
24 May 2021
Contract Type
Job Level
Planner, Principal, Senior

This is an exciting opportunity to join a multi-disciplinary team working to protect and enhance the landscape, environment, heritage and quality of life of one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. Local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future is seeking a highly motivated and dynamic Principal Planning Officer to help keep Cambridge special.

Cambridge has outstanding built heritage connected to the countryside through a series of green corridors and surrounded by a tightly drawn green belt. The surrounding countryside features chalk meadows and streams, fens, river meadows, woods and historic villages. These features are what helps make Cambridge such an attractive place to work, study and visit. The Cambridge Phenomenon has seen the city boom with new high-tech industries attracting the brightest talent from around the world. The rapid and sustained rate of jobs growth has in turn created a demand for a significant amount of housing and transport infrastructure that, in-turn, threatens the special character of Cambridge. Being able to manage this change to benefit Cambridge’s landscapes, environment, heritage and communities is one of the greatest challenges facing our area. You will play a key role in helping to address this challenge.

A new Local Plan is getting underway that will set out plans for growth up to 2040, this will be informed by a new regional strategic planning framework for the OxCam Arc. These will be set against a backdrop of central government planning reforms. In the meantime, significant transport infrastructure schemes are being planned for the city, including East West Rail, several busways and an autonomous metro. All of which are supposed to take place in ways that are net carbon zero and increase biodiversity.

We are seeking an MRTPI qualified professional with an in-depth knowledge of planning who also has an understanding of the importance of ecology, landscape and heritage and an ability to maximise the opportunities in the planning process for enhancing these. You will be a tactical thinker and a strong communicator, able to influence a wide range of decision-makers and stakeholders.

Our charity has a long tradition of high-calibre volunteers supporting our planning and heritage work. Most of our volunteers are current or retired professionals in this field and you will have the interpersonal skills to make the most of this valuable resource.

You will be joining a small, friendly and committed management team where you can make a difference to the charity and your work will have an impact.

Our office is in an 18th century building overlooking the beautiful Wandlebury estate. Wandlebury is located on top of the Gog Magog Hills just south of Cambridge.

Start Date: As soon as possible.

Location: Our office is at Wandlebury Country Park, Cambridge CB22 3AE. This role is suitable for home working combined with team working at our office and site-based activity. You would have your own desk and can work entirely from the office if that is your preference.

Hours: Ideally 22.5 hours per week, but we are open to discussion.

Benefits: 33 days annual holiday entitlement pro rata, includes allowance for Public/Bank Holidays.  Pension contribution of up to 5% of gross pay.

How to Apply

To apply, please email us the following:

  • Your full CV.
  • A covering letter telling us how you meet the person specification and job description for this role - and also tell us why you want the job.
  • Contact details for two referees (who will not be approached without your permission)

Applications should be emailed to Clive Mitchell at [email protected]  

Please title your email ‘Job Application’ and include your name in the file name of your CV and cover letter.

Closing date for applications is Monday 24 May 10am.

If you would like an informal chat about this role or have any questions, please contact the Chief Executive, James Littlewood, on 01223 243830.

To download the application pack for this role please visit our website

Job Description

Job title: Principal Planning Officer

Location: Office base is at Wandlebury Country Park, Cambridge CB22 3AE. This role is suitable for home working combined with team working at the office and site-based activity.

Salary: circa £36,000 pro-rata, dependent on experience. [This salary equates to £21,000 per year for 22.5 hours a week.]

Hours: circa 0.6 FTE (22.5 hours per week). Evening working is anticipated in order to   attend meetings (eg 1-3 evenings per month) for which time off in lieu is available.

Reports to: Chief Executive (line manager) & Chair of the Planning Committee

Direct reports:  Any volunteers and consultants working on planning and heritage.

Key responsibilities and deliverables

Although the list of responsibilities and deliverables may seem numerous for a part-time role, the charity has around 20 high-calibre volunteers that directly support the charity’s planning and heritage work. Many of these people have professional backgrounds in planning, architecture, environment, etc and are committed to helping the charity. In addition, the Chief Executive commits significant time to this work. You will work closely with the Chief Executive and volunteers, as a team, to deliver the work – either leading, co-ordinating or supporting.

1. Influencing relevant policies and plans

CambridgePPF supports a plan-led approach to development and therefore influencing local plans, policies and supplementary planning documents is one of our main aims.

1.1 Identify as early as possible any changes to relevant national, regional or local plans and policy relevant to the charity and alert management, trustees, committees or volunteers (as appropriate) to determine the level of response required.

1.2 Work with colleagues to agree the charity’s position and prepare the charity’s response to plan or policy consultations or calls for evidence.

1.3 Arrange and attend discussions with policy decision-makers with a view to influencing planning policy.

1.4 Lead and support campaign work to influence planning policy.

1.5 Liaise with other NGOs in order to inform and be informed.

1.6 Support or represent the charity at public examination of relevant plans.

2. Influencing development proposals

CambridgePPF has an important role as a planning watchdog to ensure that new developments are planned, designed and built to high quality standards that respect landscape, environment, heritage and local amenity. Where necessary, the charity influences and campaigns against inappropriate development proposals.

2.1 Identify as early as possible any development proposals relevant to the charity and alert management, trustees, committees or volunteers (as appropriate) to determine the level of response required:

  • Make recommendations regarding how the charity might best respond
  • Solicit and co-ordinate input from colleagues to a collective response
  • Prepare responses on behalf of the charity
  • Support or represent the charity at local government committees and planning inquiries

2.2 Attend and arrange discussions with developers, decision-makers and stakeholders with a view to influencing the planning of development proposals and applications.

2.3 Lead and support campaign work to influence development proposals.

2.4 Liaise with other NGOs, Parish Councils, residents groups, council officers, etc in order to inform and be informed.

3. CambridgePPF Planning Committee

3.1 Attend the charity’s monthly Planning Committee and provide professional input and support, including making recommendations.

3.2 Provide an efficient secretariat function (organise meetings/agenda/papers/minutes) supported by volunteers or other staff.

3.3 Deputise for the Chair of the committee when required.

3.4 Work with trustees and other managers, help to identify, recruit and retain high quality volunteers – and to maximise the skills and expertise that they have to offer.

3.5 Ensure that the Planning Committee is kept up-to-date with relevant planning matters.

4. CambridgePPF Heritage Group and other working groups

4.1 Attend the charity’s quarterly Heritage Group meetings and other relevant working groups, and provide professional input and support, including making recommendations.

4.2 Provide an efficient secretariat function (organise meetings/agenda/papers/minutes).

4.3 Deputise for the Chair of the group when required.

4.4 Work with trustees and other managers, help to identify, recruit and retain high quality volunteers – and to maximise the skills and expertise that they have to offer.

4.5 Ensure that the Heritage Group is kept up-to-date with relevant heritage matters.

5. Planning and Heritage Projects

CambridgePPF is often involved in carrying out work to benefit heritage that is not the direct responsibility of the charity. For example, carrying out Conservation Area Appraisals, surveys, helping to preserve a heritage or environmental asset and celebrating local heritage.

5.1 Support volunteers to carry out relevant projects.

5.2 Identify or bring to the charity’s attention any relevant projects that it might consider pursuing.

5.3 Work with colleagues to secure any funding, permissions or support that might be required.

6. Internal advice

CambridgePPF owns land and property, including heritage assets. Occasionally the charity has a requirement to secure permissions for work relating to these, in such cases you will be expected to provide advice and support to colleagues to facilitate this work.

7. Recruiting and Managing Volunteers, Consultants and Staff

You will be the charity’s only dedicated planning and heritage officer, but you will share the workload and work closely with the CEO, trustees and volunteers.

7.1 Develop volunteer roles to support the charity’s planning and heritage work and, recruit and supervise suitable volunteers, adhering to relevant CPPF policies and procedures.

7.2 Motivate, support and train relevant volunteers to ensure that they maximise the help they give to the charity, that they are retained and that they comply with relevant CPPF policies and procedures.

7.3 Where there is a business case, develop staff or consultancy roles to support the charity’s planning and heritage work and carry out recruitment, working closely with relevant colleagues.

7.4 Responsible for line management of any relevant staff or consultants, adhering to relevant CPPF policies and procedures. Carry out regular supervisory meetings, appraisals and mid-year reviews.

7.5 Motivate, support and train any relevant staff or contractors to ensure that they achieve their targets and that their abilities are maximised to help the charity, and that they comply with relevant CPPF policies and procedures.

8. Media & Communications

CambridgePPF communicates the planning and heritage work of the charity in order to raise awareness of the issues and the charity’s response; and also, to encourage support for the charity. The charity uses a variety of communications media for this purpose including website, social media, e-newsletter, members magazine, events and working with the media.

8.1 Identify opportunities for CPPF to communicate its planning/heritage work.

8.2 Responsible for updating relevant pages of the charity’s website and twitter posts (planning feed).

8.3 Provide relevant content for CPPF communications materials such as e-newsletter, social media, members magazine, annual report, media releases, etc.

8.4 Represent the charity in the media when appropriate.

9. Monitoring, Reporting and Administration

9.1 Maintain records of responses to development proposals and their impact and effectiveness, using this information to help inform the charity’s influencing strategy.

9.2 When requested, prepare succinct and easy to understand reports for the CEO or Trustees.

9.3 When requested, attend relevant CPPF meetings to give presentations or reports.

9.4 Attend Team Meetings and report on the charity’s planning and heritage work to staff.

9.5 Ensure that systems relating to planning/heritage work are efficient and effective, eg filing of documents.

10. Policies and Procedures

10.1 Adhere to all relevant CPPF policies and procedures.

11. Management Team

11.1 Attend Management Team meetings and ensure close working and communication with other managers.

11.2 Deputise for the CEO and other managers if required.

11.3 Undertake any other duties which from time to time may be required by the charity (CPPF is a small charity carrying out a wide range of operations and occasionally it may be necessary for the post-holder to cover for other staff or to help with the other operations of the charity).

12. Learning and development

12.1 Maintain an awareness of planning matters to inform the work of CPPF.

12.2 Be committed to continuous professional development, where relevant maintaining any professional memberships.

12.3 Proactively share knowledge and skills to develop colleagues and volunteers.

Person Specification 

Experience & Knowledge


·         Demonstrable relevant experience of working in planning and heritage.

·         Experience in preparing responses to development plans and applications and giving evidence at committee or public meetings.

·         Up to date detailed knowledge and understanding of planning legislation, policy and procedures.

·         Understanding of the opportunities in the planning process for conserving and enhancing the natural and historic environment.

·         Experience of, or demonstrable commitment to, at least one of: sustainable development, nature, heritage or landscape.

·         Experience of local government and how to influence the planning process.

·         Experience of working with volunteers or recruiting and supervising staff.

·         Experience of providing secretariat functions.


·         Knowledge of the Cambridge area and/or a good understanding of the potential impacts of development on the landscape, environment, heritage and local amenity of this area.

·         Experience of campaigning or influencing public opinion.

·         Experience of communications and the media.

·         Experience or understanding of charities.

Skills & Abilities


·         Excellent written and verbal communication skills with the ability to influence at different levels.

·         Ability to assess development proposals, understand the impacts of development, and identify possible amendments and mitigation.

·         Excellent networking and social skills, with an ability to develop constructive relationships with colleagues, partners and stakeholders.

·         Organised and able to prioritise and manage an unpredictable workload.

·         Highly self-motivated and able to work independently.

·         High levels of tact, discretion and confidentiality.

·         Ability to use standard Microsoft software (Word, Outlook, Excel).

·         Flexible and adaptable to the needs of a charity carrying out a wide range of operations.



·         Educated to degree level or equivalent in planning or other relevant discipline.

·         Membership of the RTPI or significant experience of planning work.



·         Able to work evenings when required.


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