Town Planner

hat work is involved?

  Working as a town or spatial planner, your job would be to balance the demand for new development and buildings with the diminishing amount of land available. You would be responsible for maintaining an attractive environment that can also sustain the demands of the population who live there. You would be involved with listening to the views of a number of interested parties, including conservationists, builders, farmers and residents, before advising on planning decisions. You would need to consider future developments and demands on amenities as well as the current situation, taking into account such factors as design features, waste and environmental management, transport, urban renewal and employment or recreation demands.
  You would sometimes be implementing national planning policy at a local level, such as, for example, a political preference for building on brownfield sites. You would use various sources of information, including surveys, public opinion and existing legislation, and could be involved with large-scale projects or with decisions on home extensions. You would almost certainly be required to use a wide range of skills in order to produce your reports. Much of the work is based in an office and involves the use of a computer but you would also be expected to make site visits.

pportunities for training

  In order to work as a town planner, a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) accredited qualification is essential. To become a chartered town planner, the accredited academic qualifications must be supported by two years' work experience.
  If you wish to study town planning as your first degree, there are specialist town and country planning or urban studies degrees, accredited by the RTPI. These courses provide the full planning education in four years (five if on a sandwich course), which includes a three-year undergraduate BA degree and a one-year postgraduate diploma. The courses are also available part-time and by distance learning. Graduates who are not from RTPI-accredited planning courses will need a recognised postgraduate qualification. Subjects such as economics, engineering, environmental studies, geography, law, politics or social studies could all help prepare for a career in planning. You then have the option of taking an RTPI-accredited conversion Masters.
  There is also an apprenticeship in town planning technical support, this could qualify you to work as a planning technician or enforcement officer.

equirements for entry

  For a first degree in town planning, you would need two or three subjects at A level/Advanced Higher, three or four Higher or equivalent qualifications, together with at least three GCSE/S Grade passes at 9-4/A*-C/1-3. A few universities specify particular subjects but most are looking for a combination of arts and science subjects. Geography can be a useful subject to offer. The content of the courses can vary considerably, so it is important to study the prospectus carefully to make sure that the course on offer covers areas of interest to you. Work experience is a good idea because it gives you a chance to find out about the range of options available.

ind of person

  You should be committed to achieving the best possible quality of life in your area without causing undue damage to the environment. You would need to communicate effectively with a wide range of people and to listen to their views. Your job would involve writing clear reports in language that can be easily understood and you would at times be required to work under pressure to meet tight deadlines. You would have to speak at public meetings and would need to be persuasive or assertive if your audience is hostile. You would probably be responsible for managing other staff.

road outlook for the future

  Like the construction industry generally, planning has highs and lows reflecting the state of the national economy. Although until quite recently the sector enjoyed a period of healthy growth, there is at present concern that Brexit may cause the economy to slow down considerably, and with it opportunities for planners.
  The government's new Housing and Planning Act and the National Planning Policy Framework, intended to make the planning system less complex and more accessible, have prompted fierce debate between traditionalists and reformers. Insiders fear that the new proposals could lead to both job cuts in the industry and shortcuts in working practice.
  The environmental field is a growing area of work, offering increasing opportunities for professionals to become involved in the planning process for environmentally sensitive development schemes.

elated occupations

  You might also consider: civil engineer, construction manager, building control officer/surveyor, architect, landscape architect, surveyor (general practice) or cartographer.

mpact on lifestyle

  You may have to travel quite large distances to get to planning sites, or find that you have to move around the country in order to find the job you want or to gain promotion. Most planners who work for local authorities work a 37-hour week although you might be expected to attend planning meetings in the evenings.

arnings potential

  In the public sector, starting annual salaries range from £20,000 to £28,000, rising with experience to £30,000 to £45,000. Chief planning officers, heads of departments and directors can earn between £40,000 and £80,000, with an average salary of about £64,000. The higher salaries in these ranges are paid by local authorities where there is a scarcity of planners, for example London boroughs or local authorities in the South East.
  Pay in the private sector is generally comparable with that in the public sector. There are no set scales and individual salaries are usually a matter for negotiation with the employer.

urther information/valuable websites

  Royal Town Planning Institute
  Planning Officers Society
  National Planning Policy Framework
  RTPI Ireland