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A spell in Africa as a student inspired Marc Dorfman to go into local government - today he's a chief planning and ...
A spell in Africa as a student inspired Marc Dorfman to go into local government - today he's a chief planning and regeneration officer thanks to an advertisement in LGC, says Suzanne Simmons-Lewis

Marc Dorfman

Chief planning and regeneration officer, Redbridge LBC

Advertised October 2005

Started work March 2006

Qualifications and experience

Masters degree in town planning

Degree in history and politics

Head of regeneration and major projects, Ealing LBC

Head of planning projects and policy, Ealing LBC

Planning manager, development control and planning projects, Ealing LBC

Planning participation officer,Southwark LBC

Development control officer, Camden LBC

Planning aid officer, Town & Country Planning Association

Best part of the role

'I am passionate about all aspects of town planning, particularly raising the design aspects of town planning, which is a skill we have lost over the last 20-30 years.'

Biggest challenge

'Building sustainable communities and striking the balance between growth and environmental management.'

Reports to

Director of environment and regeneration

T ime working in town planning in Senegal, while taking a break from a history and politics degree, gave Marc Dorfman the focus and passion to pursue a local government career.

He explains: 'I was in the middle of my degree and couldn't understand why I was doing it. So I answered a newspaper advert for someone to go and work in West Africa to do agricultural development work - after a week I ended up doing town planning instead. I then realised I wanted a career in town planning.'

Mr Dorfman says his many roles in this field have given him a good grounding for his current role as chief planning and regeneration officer at Redbridge LBC.

'This role is doing all the jobs that I have been doing individually all in one,' he says. 'I chose it because I am fascinated by the future of the suburbs and how you make them more sustainable. I also wanted to be in charge.'

Mr Dorfman is responsible for the planning service, building control and regeneration, which includes economic development. He is responsible for 105 staff with five service managers reporting directly to him.

He is currently involved in the development of a new town square in Redbridge town centre and the building of a new leisure centre.

He says: 'The other side of regeneration is economic development, supporting the growth of small businesses, improving the education, training and vocational attainment levels of the general population and in particular young people.

'I do a lot of work re-engineering the service to make it more efficient and streamlined. This involves looking at the structure of the service and its work processes and looking at the skills of staff and how we can improve the operation for the customer as well as increasing its efficiency and effectiveness.'

The majority of his working week is spent working on major projects and talking to officers who report directly to him, to ensure they are being helped and supported.

He adds: 'I like to ensure I am visible to staff - one of the big decisions I made was not to have an office when I joined Redbridge. I 'hot desk' everyday. I have the zeal of a convert and it's nice because staff can see me getting on with work and I don't appear unapproachable.'

According to Mr Dorfman, officers in a chief planning and regeneration role should have a sound understanding of how and why cities are built and a strong understanding of environmental management.

An understanding of local government process and commitment to taking on board the needs of the local community and getting them involved in decision making are also essential. London's changing ethnic make up means officers need to be dedicated to equal opportunities too.

Mr Dorfman loves the variety his role provides but it is not without challenges, such as building sustainable communities and striking the balance between growth and environmental management.

He says: 'In London, and particularly in east London, we will need to manage an extraordinary amount of growth - population, jobs transport and infrastructure - that means a lot of change for people. My job is to create the framework for it to happen, helping people to make those strategic and local decisions.'

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