Public Statement

Public Practice delivers largest cohort of placements as it expands into the North to help ease local government skills crisis

The Autumn 2022 Cohort. Photo by Fiona Finchett.

Record intake of placemaking professionals comes after local authorities receive £8bn from Levelling Up Fund and Towns Fund but say attracting skilled staff is their largest recruitment issue.

Public Practice has launched its largest ever cohort of placements and its first in the North of England as part of a geographic expansion to help ease the local government skills crisis.

The expansion into the north means the social enterprise has secured employment for 41 experienced place professionals in the public sector this autumn including a total of ten placements across the North in places like Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire and the North East.

Out of the 41 placements, 25 stated it was a brand new role within the Authority, and 14 will be working on roles in Urban Design.

The geographic growth comes after local authorities across England have received more that £8bn of investment from the Government’s Towns Fund (£3.6bn) and Levelling Up Fund (£4.8bn) to create better places for people to live, work and visit.

The expansion of Public Practice has been funded by a £200,000 investment by Homes England supported by the Department of Levelling Up, Homes and Communities (DLUHC).

However, Public Practice’s survey revealed that four-fifths (79%) of local authorities said attracting skilled staff is their largest recruitment issue.

The Local Authority Resourcing and Skills Survey was designed by Public Practice to help understand the skills gaps and the impact that a lack of resources has on council officers and their teams across England.

Over the past decade there has been a fall of around 321,300 full time employees in local government from 1.343m in 2012 to 1.022m in 2022. This shows there has been a reduction in the local government workforce of almost a quarter (24%) since 2012.

Over the past five years Public Practice has attracted more than 2,500 professionals to apply to its placement programme, 92% of which have come from people currently working outside of the public sector. 73% of applicants have never worked in the public sector and 53% of applicants have never previously applied for a job in the public sector.

The not-for-profit social enterprise has a mission to rebuild skills and capacity in the public sector to help improve places and communities across England.

To date Public Practice has had 264 place professionals in 73 public sector bodies across England.

Public Practice’s programme has resulted in a long-term transfer of talent and expertise into the public sector. Nine-tenths of Public Practice Associates have chosen to continue working in the public sector following the conclusion of the year-long programme.

Pooja Agrawal, CEO of Public Practice said: “We are proud to welcome our largest ever cohort of built environment professionals to new placements in local government. Our expansion into the north of England comes at a very exciting time. Since 2019 councils across England have been able to start bidding for funding from the Towns Fund and Levelling Up Fund - a combined pot worth more than £8bn.

“This has created exceptionally interesting opportunities for placemaking professionals who now have a chance to help build better places and shape the future of towns and cities across England for generations.

“However, it is clear that local authorities have substantial skills gaps and are understandably concerned about delivering these projects on the ground amidst growing political and economic uncertainty. Our Resourcing and Skills Survey, shows that the biggest recruitment barrier councils face is attracting the right people with the right skills to meet their ambitions.

“Public Practice can help to fill that gap by bringing private sector placemaking expertise into the public sector. People who want to come in and make a difference to places local to them and towns and cities across England. More than nine-tenths of Public Practice associates stay in local government after their initial placement ends.”

Anna Rose, Director of Public Practice said: “​​These are exciting times for Public Practice, not only is this our largest cohort since launching in 2017 it is also the first time we have expanded our reach into the North of England.

“These are also exciting times for placemaking professionals with more than 200 projects granted money through either the Levelling Up Fund or Towns Fund, unlocking new regeneration opportunities for dozens of places across the North and Midlands.

“However, councils are facing a crisis of funding and resourcing. Public Practice gives public sector bodies the chance to tap into private sector placemaking expertise on a job placement. We help councils to build capacity, benefit from new skills and find new local government champions from among our associates, the vast majority of whom go on to move from the private to the public sector.”




A media pack can be downloaded here.


Public Practice was founded as a social enterprise in September 2017, and is committed to making everyday spaces work for everyone. Public Practice builds the public sector’s capability to shape places, by offering professionals from the private sector an attractive route into local authorities which includes a unique package of real-time training and development.

Over the past five years Public Practice has attracted more than 2,500 professionals to apply to its placement programme, 92% of which have come from people currently working outside of the public sector. 73% of applicants have never worked in the public sector and 53% of applicants have never previously applied for a job in the public sector.

To date, Public Practice has placed 264 place professionals in 73 public sector authorities across London, the South East, East of England, North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber, with 96% completion of the Public Practice programme.

Diversity and representation within cohorts of Public Practice Associates has consistently outperformed the built environment industry but Public Practice is striving to do more, read here.

Public Practice Associates have provided specialist skills that have enabled the establishment of new capabilities and interdisciplinary approaches within place-shaping teams. These include architectural and urban design experts within Transport for London, securing high-quality design principles across delivery projects; sustainability and landscape experts at Epping Forest District Council, developing sustainable policies to develop strategic sites in Harlow & Gilston Garden Town; and community engagement and digital skills in Greater Cambridge Shared Planning supporting the delivery of the digital Local Plan.


Greater Manchester

Kelly-Marie Rodgers is joining GreaterSport as Strategic Lead for Healthy Active Places on a 12-month placement.

In this role she will work with designers, planners and communities in Greater Manchester to create more active and healthier places across the city region by spreading good practice across all ten boroughs.

She said: “In a post Covid world the need to put health at the centre of our built environment is much clearer to us all. I’m excited to have the opportunity, through the Public Practice program, to contribute to the growing movement of healthy and active placemaking and in doing so improve the health of generations of people in Greater Manchester.”

Eve Holt, director, at GreaterSport, said: “We are committed in Greater Manchester to creating the conditions for good and active lives for all. This includes the design and development of safe, inclusive, joyful physical environments which invite people to move every day. A Public Practice placement provides a brilliant way for us to increase our expertise and capacity to help lead on this work so we can spread and grow good practice. I'm very excited about welcoming Kelly to the GreaterSport team and the GM family as a Strategic Lead for Healthy Active Places.”


Maggie Baddeley is a former planning director at Lichfields, where she led the company’s planning policy and law service. She was also vice-chair of the Planning Committee of the British Property Federation and often took part in discussions regarding emerging planning policy and new legislation with Government.

Maggie is starting a new 12-month placement at Luton Council as a principal planning officer in the policy making team.

Maggie said: “There’s so much placemaking talent in the private sector, with many highly skilled people already working on projects for public sector clients. As built environment professionals, they are keen to help shape those projects from the outset but they often find they cannot. If they then try and move into the public sector to do so, people in the private sector find they don’t understand the grades and bandings in local authorities and don’t understand which jobs to apply for. Public Practice knows how to unlock those opportunities, to bring highly talented people from the private sector, into the public sector.”


Noor Jan-Mohamed is joining Newcastle Council as a Senior Planning & Project Officer on a 12-month placement. She will be working on the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Town and High Street Innovation Programme, which is aiming to improve the shop vacancy rate by improving the high streets in Newcastle’s East End.

She said: “All of my experience is in the private sector so I’m not sure I’d have a job in the public sector without Public Practice. I’m really grateful to Public Practice for helping me to find a role which is ideal for me in a city I’m so fond of. I’m looking forward to playing my part in making streets in the East End better places to live and work and visit.”

Newcastle City Council’s Director of Place, Michelle Percy, said: “At Newcastle City Council, like many other local authorities, we have experienced a shortage of specialist resources in planning and regeneration. We have found it difficult to recruit staff into a range of positions, and it has become increasingly challenging to recruit and retain staff in place shaping teams. That’s why we use Public Practice - to widen skills and secure high-quality resources more quickly. Noor will help us develop a blue-print for an area-based community model of neighbourhood renewal which is locally led and can be rolled out to other areas in Newcastle when further funding becomes available.”

Lake District National Park Authority

Abigail Patel is joining the Lake District National Park Authority on a 12-month placement as delivery lead for the Windermere Gateway project. The Windermere Gateway Project will deliver 13 interventions to improve the town’s railway station, create better walking and cycling connections to the station, improve traffic flow, and create a significant number of new affordable homes which will prioritised for local people and new commercial space.

Abigail, who was named on the Northern Power Women's Future List, said: “The Windermere Gateway is an exciting project to work on and the Lake District is a special place to work. New development in the Lakes is quite rightly limited so when you work in the Lakes you realise just how important every site is and how important it is to listen to people to make sure the scheme delivers the most benefit for everyone. I wouldn’t have applied for a public sector job without Public Practice. They make local government jobs accessible and the learning and development programme they provide alongside the placements looks excellent and is something I’ve never seen before.”


Katie Kavanagh is joining Calderdale Council as Housing Delivery and Design Manager on a two-year placement as the council gets closer to the anticipated adoption of its Local Plan. The Local Plan is expected to facilitate the delivery of nearly 15,000 new homes up to 2032/33. Katie will promote and shape the quality of new homes coming forward on new and stalled sites across Calderdale.

Katie said: “I’m really excited to help Calderdale deliver on their ambitions to create high-quality new homes across the borough. We have a housing crisis in terms of both the quality and the quantity of new homes in England. I’m thankful to Public Practice and Calderdale Council for giving me an opportunity to help develop these much-needed new homes.”

Cllr Scott Patient, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Resilience, said: “We’re proud to be one of the few public sector organisations in the North to be part of the Public Practice partnership work. We’re really pleased to welcome Katie to the Council. Her talent, skills and experience will help to boost the work of our housing team to improve the pace and quality of new homes being delivered across Calderdale. This support will be vital as we head towards adopting the Local Plan. Katie’s work will impact not only our housing targets, but also our priorities to reduce inequalities, to build strong and thriving towns, and to take climate action.”


Mark Stancombe is joining Warrington Borough Council as an Urban Design Officer where he will focus on masterplanning and helping to embed the council’s new design code which focuses on creating beautiful and well-designed new property developments.

He said: “My experience in the private sector might not have opened a door for me in the public sector without Public Practice. Warrington is an up-and-coming town with huge potential to unleash and it will be exciting to be part of that upwards trajectory. High-quality masterplanning and design is so important to the regeneration of our places so I'm really looking forward to being part of advancing this with such a forward-thinking council as Warrington."


Public Practice has support from the private, third and public sectors. Public Practice’s grant funders include Homes England and the Greater London Authority. Partners include Berkeley Group, Legal and General, L&Q and RTPI; and Supporters include Dentons, Inner Circle Consulting and Dentons. More information here.

Pete Gladwell, Group Social Impact & Investment Director at Legal and General said:

“Our investment in towns and cities across the UK will only have the positive impact that we want it to achieve if it collaborates with skilled and well-resourced Local Authority teams – particularly those in planning, whose roles can make a huge difference to the prosperity and beauty of their places. We are delighted to support the training of this latest cohort, playing our part in enabling them to embark upon place-shaping careers that can affect thousands of people’s lives for better.”

Jacqueline Esimaje-Heath, Growth Director at L&Q said:

“From planning to construction, our sector is facing an unprecedented skills gap, which is hindering our abilities to deliver the high-quality, affordable and energy-efficient homes that Britain needs, and our leadership has called for conversations at Government-level to tackle this ongoing shortage.

“At L&Q we are doing our part as one of the country’s largest housebuilders and continuing to invest in skills and talent development through our apprenticeships, graduate training, coaching and mentoring programmes.

“We are delighted to support the work of Public Practice to enhance skills in the public sector to complement this. L&Q’s expansion into the North West is seeing us invest in high quality homes, beautiful places and local communities, and we’re thrilled to see Public Practice bring its offering into these areas.”

Roy Pinnock, Partner at Dentons said:

“We are very proud to continue to support Public Practice in helping to address the resourcing of skills, problem solving conversations and decision-making dialogue in the built environment. These are critical to the success of placemaking and overcoming current barriers to planned investment. Our support for PP reflects our longstanding focus on seeing the whole picture and solutions that work for everyone.”

Paul Karakusevic, Founding Partner at Karakusevic Carson Architects said:

“After five years of Public Practice’s pioneering work with local councils in London, their expansion across England is timely. Alongside their growing cohort of architects, planners and built environment professionals, their new partnerships with city regions and local councils will help new housing design and delivery alongside improved public facilities and infrastructure.”

Jamie Ounan, Founder and Director at Inner Circle Consulting said:

“Places matter. They're much more important than homes and offices. Our neighbourhoods create the memories of our childhoods, bring communities together and should be a cause for pride. In a fast-changing world, our towns and cities deserve bold investment, supported by thoughtful planning and design. We share the same passion for place as Public Practice and are proud to partner with the team.”


Public Practice will launch its next recruitment round for Authorities in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Humber, South East, East of England and London on the 18th of October.

Authorities, more information here. Candidates, more information here.


Please contact Chris Walker on 07421 319937 or email: [email protected]