Planners are involved in making long and short-term decisions about the management and development of cities, towns, villages and the countryside. They aim to balance the conflicting demands of: housing; industrial development; agriculture; recreation; transport; and the environment, in order to allow appropriate development to take place.

Planners are at the heart of regeneration within towns and cities, taking into account the often competing views of businesses and local communities. In rural areas, they must ensure that development is sustainable and that the right balance of development is achieved to preserve the countryside. The work of planners also makes a positive contribution towards tackling the effects of climate change.


Typical Work Activities

  • Developing creative and original planning solutions to satisfy all parties.
  • Consulting with stakeholders and other interested parties and negotiating with developers and other professionals, such as surveyors and architects.
  • Assessing planning applications and monitoring outcomes as necessary.
  • Researching and designing planning policies to guide development.
  • Researching and analyzing data to help inform strategic developments, such as increases in affordable housing provision.
  • Designing layouts and drafting design statements.
  • Using information technology systems such as cad (computer-aided design) or gis (geographical information systems).
  • Attending and presenting at planning boards and appeals and at public inquiries.
  • Keeping up to date with legislation associated with land use.
  • Promoting environmental education and awareness.
  • Helping disadvantaged groups express their opinions about planning issues and proposals, and visiting sites to assess the effects of proposals on people or the environment.
  • Scheduling available resources to meet planning targets.
  • Writing reports, often of a complex nature, which make recommendations or explain detailed regulations. These reports may be for a range of groups, from borough councils to regional assemblies, or members of the public.


Technical Skills

  • Problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • Strong report-writing, communication and organizational skills.
  • The ability to work as part of a team and to manage an individual caseload.
  • Project-management skills.
  • Self-motivation.
  • An aptitude for listening to and negotiating with a diverse range of people.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Flexibility, initiative and innovation.
  • Creative thinking skills and the ability to come up with imaginative solutions to problems.


Career Development

Career structures differ between employers, but after you have gained chartered status with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), your chances of moving into senior positions will increase. Career progression may also become quicker at this point.

In the public sector moving from assistant/graduate planner to senior planner can take three to five years. Further promotion may be to county planning officer. Senior managerial roles typically require a substantial amount of experience, possibly around ten years or more. There are opportunities for planners to move between local authorities, so progression in the public sector is likely to depend, to a certain extent, upon geographical mobility. Many planners try to change jobs in order to broaden their experience.

Movement between the private and public sector is also possible, for example between a local authority and a consultancy or charity. It is possible, with experience, to specialise in different areas of planning such as: urban design; regeneration; conservation; community engagement; or sustainable development.

You may need to move to different departments within the organisation to make use of your specialism or you might have to change employers. With experience you could move into a related industry as you will have developed skills which can be used in areas such as planning law and market research. It is also possible to move into property development, with companies that identify and purchase land in predicted sought-after areas.



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