What does a community projects assistant do?

Leaving the University of Birmingham with a geography and urban and regional planning degree Ella Rodwell sought a career revolving around urban design, place making and community planning. Here she speaks about her subsequent path through the graduate scheme of developer Dorchester Living, working at Heyford Park in Bicester, Oxfordshire.

“Having joined Dorchester around three years ago as a graduate in the development team, I have been given the opportunity to explore all three of these areas and am now a community projects assistant within the team.

“At Heyford Park, I support the development team in the delivery of social infrastructure. This leads me to work with architects, engineers, planning consultants, and local authorities to prepare and produce the schemes and documents required for planning submissions. So far I have worked on the planning for a new village centre, community hall and a number of play schemes, all important community facilities for the residents of Heyford Park.

Heyford Park from Dorchester Living

Village centre at Heyford Park from Dorchester Living

“I also have a large role in the organisation of our community engagement activities which are vital to informing emerging development plans but also to building a successful community. This ranges from holding workshops and meetings to organising exhibitions and events.

“The Dorchester graduate scheme is a hands-on experience, giving you wide ranging access to the workings of the company. You are placed within one of the small teams at Dorchester, working directly for one of the senior members of the team. In my case, I was placed with the head of social infrastructure, who herself joined Dorchester as a graduate a number of years ago.

“The real advantage of the scheme is that you are given increasing responsibility as your knowledge and skills progress. This has led me to spending the last year project managing the planning of a mixed-use scheme which will form an important part of the new village centre, a future centrepiece of Heyford Park, which will provide both residents of Heyford Park and local villages with important amenities.

“Dorchester is very supportive of its graduates and see them as the future of the business. Looking forward I will continue to build skills and knowledge within the development team, taking responsibility for larger projects, with the eventual end goal of managing a development site one day.

“For anyone looking to join the Dorchester graduate scheme, a passion for regeneration and strive for quality are key, the knowledge base can always be gained on the job.”

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