Planning and development surveyors advise on all aspects of planning and development in both the public and private sectors. Taking into account a range of complex economic, social and environmental factors they provide their clients with critical information to help them make informed choices about investment.

Such expertise is particularly critical where development funds are coming from the public purse and careful planning and financial consideration needs to be evidenced. The advice surveyors give on issues such as site planning, development, conservation and transport options, is all done while taking account of rapidly changing market conditions.

Planning and development surveyors play a big role in the creation of sustainable developments and in the public sector they may frequently work on affordable housing and urban and rural generation projects. Employers include: planning consultants; developers; house-builders; local authorities; government bodies; banks and investment funds; and anyone who needs advice on the long-term strategic management of their land and property assets.


Typical Work Activities

  • Assessing land and property use requirements, including traffic and infrastructure.
  • Managing or taking a lead role in projects, from the earliest planning stages through to completion.
  • Identifying new opportunities by conducting research and networking.
  • Interpreting data from various sources.
  • Drawing up, presenting and negotiating competitive proposals.
  • Advising clients on the availability of finance and the feasibility of planning permission.
  • Preparing and presenting applications for planning permission.
  • Providing valuations, advising financial institutions and negotiating with regard to the provision of finance for commercial and residential developments.
  • Ensuring compliance with planning legislation and policy.
  • Using strong management and entrepreneurial skills to ensure that projects are managed successfully, efficiently and profitably for employers and clients.
  • Considering the physical, environmental and social impact of proposed developments.
  • Advocating the conservation and protection of historic or environmentally sensitive sites and areas.
  • Promoting the use of effective land management and administration as one of the key drivers behind economic development.
  • Communicating and negotiating effectively with colleagues, clients and financial stakeholders.
  • Responding quickly to changes in market conditions, client requirements and government policies.
  • Going on to specialize in particular areas such as planning and development policy, development and regeneration appraisal, planning and implementation processes, compulsory purchase and related compensation.


Technical Skills

  • Excellent analytical and numerical skills.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills including negotiating, networking and presentation.
  • Effective written communication and report-writing ability.
  • An interest in legal matters, policies and procedures.
  • A creative and innovative approach with an aptitude for problem solving.
  • The ability to carry out development appraisals thoroughly and convincingly, especially financial viability.
  • Good commercial awareness and understanding of the property sector.

Increasingly, planning and development surveying work is strongly linked to issues of sustainability and must be conducted with a sense of ethical responsibility. It is advisable to gain some commercial awareness of the industry by following property stories in the national business press and by reading specialist journals.


Career Development

Generally, graduates start in trainee surveyor positions, progressing to experienced and senior surveyor roles, followed by the potential to take up management positions (including associate, partner and directorial roles in some organizations) or pursue further specialisms. Surveyors who can demonstrate significant achievements in their careers can achieve Fellowship of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Self-employment, consultancy and freelance work are also options.

Surveying is a truly diverse profession. There is significant scope to develop as a specialist in areas that are of particular interest to you. To advance in this profession you will need to embrace change and foster innovation. The profession increasingly requires an ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions, new client requirements and the effects of government policies and legislation. It is also important to keep up to date with changes in professional practice.



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