Town planners are involved in shaping our towns, cities and rural areas. They prepare long-term plans, make proposals for new developments and examine the proposals of others.

The work of a town planner may include:

  • visiting sites to assess the effects of developments
  • collecting information and writing reports
  • analysing data and preparing policies
  • advising councillors and other decision-makers
  • negotiating between groups with different interests

Where development or changes to land are carried out without permission, planners can take action to stop the work. Where a developer has permission, planners make sure the work meets the conditions laid down.

Planners in local government work standard office hours, but occasionally have to attend evening meetings. Hours can be more variable in consultancy work. Most planners are based in offices, but may have to travel to attend meetings or visit sites.

Salaries range from around £18,000 for a graduate or assistant planner up to £80,000 for a chief officer in local government.

A planner should:

  • have good spoken and written communication skills
  • be able to carry out research and analyse data
  • be able to present proposals and deal with people who may be upset about planning decisions
  • have a good understanding of maps and plan
  • be confident using IT
  • have a strong interest in the built and natural environment

There are approximately 20,000 qualified town planners, around half of whom work for city, district and county councils. Other employers are:

  • government departments and agencies
  • planning consultancies
  • large firms such as house builders, supermarket chains and water companies
  • voluntary and environmental organisations

Town planners usually have a degree or postgraduate qualification in a related subject.
After gaining a suitable qualification and at least two years’ practical experience in planning, a planner can apply to become a Chartered Town Planner.

Assistant or graduate planners may be able to progress to senior planner posts.

It is also possible to specialise in different areas of planning and move between departments within the same organisation or into managerial posts. There may be opportunities to work abroad.

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