Planning Manager (Applications and Campaigns)

The Ecological Land Cooperative (ELC) is a social enterprise based in Brighton, East Sussex. We exist to create affordable access to land for new entrants to ecological agriculture and mixed farming. Following the successful delivery of our first site, a cluster of three ecological smallholdings at Greenham Reach in Mid Devon, we are currently developing 3 new smallholdings in East Sussex and have purchased new land for smallholding sites in the Gower and Somerset. We have an ambitious plan to deliver around 20 smallholdings over the next 3-4 years.

We believe that ecological land-based livelihoods can help solve some of the most pressing environmental and social problems of our time, and seek to marry ecological principles with sound business practice to help more people live and work on the land. This type of small-scale ecological production delivers a number of benefits including protecting the environment, building vibrant rural communities, providing employment and training, and supporting healthy diets through affordable, locally grown produce.

Beyond this, our vision is one where land is valued and used as a means to enhance our collective good. At present, land in the UK is the target of financial speculation; in contrast, our model champions a collective, ecological and cooperative vision of land ownership and land use.

We are looking for a new member of staff to join our small and hardworking team.

The Planning Manager (Applications and Campaigns) will be responsible for coordinating all the work involved in making planning applications to the local authority for permission to site rural workers' dwellings and farm buildings on the Ecological Land Cooperative's smallholding sites. The ELC has considerable experience of making sucessful planning applications gained over the last 8 years. We initially ask for a 5 year temporary permission for our smallholdings in order to give the new farm businesses time to prove their financial viability and functional need. Once this has been achieved we ask for the permission to be made permanent. We will soon have permanent permission (subject to legal documentation) for our small farms in Mid Devon as well as a new temporary permission for our site in Wealden, East Sussex. We currently have two new sites in progress and will be purchasing at least one new piece of land this year, making a total of five sites.

It has not been easy to achieve this success in a context where farms are growing bigger rather than smaller and there is little knowledge of ecological food growing and low impact living within the planning community. We have seen a positive change in the way our planning applications are being viewed by planners, with acknowledgement that there need to be better opportunities for new entrants to farming to gain access to affordable land and a recognition of the benefits of locally produced, healthy food food for communities, but there is still a lot more to do to increase understanding.

The ELC has been successful in securing funding to produce a series of guides for people at different points in the planning application process, to enable them to understand low impact and agroecological planning applications both in planning and sustainability terms. This new role will be responsible for writing and producing these guides in conjunction with experts in the field; and then running a series of workshops with planners at a regional level to promote the guides.

We are looking for someone with an an interest in sustainable food growing and/or low impact development and experience of the planning regime in England and/or Wales. Key attributes are an eye for detail and a desire to see a piece of work through to conclusion, however hard that might be! The new staff member will also play a role in managing the organisation along with the rest of the team.

The Planning Manager (Applications and Campaigns)

The Planning Manager is responsible for researching, writing and submitting planning applications for the ELC's low impact smallholding clusters and campaigning for changes in planning policy to support low impact, sustainable rural development, and is supported by the Operations Manager.

Hours

2.5 days (18.75 hours) per week. The post is expected to be home based with the opportunity to work flexible hours and regular visits to Brighton to meet with colleagues. This post is offered as a two year temporary contract from the postholder's start date.

Remuneration

£ 27,027 per annum* pro rata. Annual salary for 2.5 days (18.75 hours) per week, £13,513 for two years.

* the ELC has a flat payment structure, with all workers paid at the same rate.

Job Description

The Planning Manager is responsible for:

  • Carrying out all the tasks necessary to research, write, submit and steward the planning applications for ELC residential smallholding sites through the planning application process until permission is granted. Duties include:
    • Undertaking preliminary planning appraisals of prospective sites for the development of linked smallholdings;
    • Preparation of requests for pre-application advice;
    • Undertaking community engagement;
    • Commissioning technical consultants;
    • Preparation, submission and determination of planning applications;
    • Progressing appeals (where necessary);
    • Coordination of the discharge of conditions and assisting with monitoring ELC’s compliance with conditions.
  • Documenting the steps necessary to complete the planning application process in the ELC Planning Handbook so that it may be replicated for future sites.
  • Ensuring that the planning resources on the ELC website are kept up to date.
  • Engaging with the professional planning community to ensure there is an understanding of the work of the ELC and the opportunity to influence planning policy at national, regional and local levels to encourage low impact and sustainable development.
  • Developing a series of guides to assessing low impact developments and ecological small-scale farming for planning professionals.
  • Working with ELC tenants to ensure that their building plans meet the requirements of ELC’s building policy and the local planning authority building regulations.
  • Delivering a programme of engagement with planning professionals to promote the work of the ELC and low impact development more generally.
  • Any other aspect of work to submit planning applications and influence planning policy considered reasonable.
  • Contributing to the work of the ELC as part of the staff team, including team meetings, strategic planning and away-days, and team-building or social events.
  • Representing the ELC at meetings, conferences and events where appropriate.
  • Preparing regular progress updates for the Operations Manager and ELC Board.
  • Supporting the work of planning volunteers as necessary.
  • Any other aspect of planning work considered reasonable.

Person Specification    

Essential Skills and Experience

  • An understanding of the planning system/s in England and/or Wales.
  • A working knowledge of the National Planning Policy Framework and/or Planning Policy Wales, particularly as they relate to agricultural workers’ dwellings.
  • An eye for detail and excellent administrative skills.
  • Campaigning experience or a willingness to campaign for policy change at a national or regional level.
  • An understanding of low impact building principles or a willingness to learn.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain professional networks.
  • Excellent written English and the ability to adapt written materials to different audiences.
  • Excellent ICT skills.
  • A commitment to working cooperatively.

Desirable Skills and Experience

  • A professional planning qualification.
  • Experience of submitting planning applications in England and/or Wales.
  • Experience of working within the environmental movement, the coop movement or the third sector.
  • Experience of the low-impact movement or agroecological farming.
  • Experience of developing and delivering training workshops.
  • Experience of running a campaign to change policy or practice.
  • An understanding of building regulations, particularly as they affect low impact self -building.
  • Familiarity with web-based management tools such as Google G-Suite, Slack.
  • Experience of using and maintaining a website content management system.
  • Experience of cooperative management and inclusive decision making.
  • Experience of remote working or an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of working remotely as part of a small and diverse team.

To apply for this role please send a copy of your most up to date CV, details for two referees and a covering letter detailing why you are a good candidate, including information on how you meet each point of the person specification to sonia@ecologicalland.coop by midnight on Monday 15th April 2019. We will be looking at applications as soon as they arrive so do please send them in early if you can.

We don't want to limit your creativity but if you could keep your letter down to two pages of A4 that would help us when shortlisting.

This post is only open to people who have a right to work in the UK. Proof of this will be required.

You can see a copy of our Business Plan here.