Principal town planner, spatial planner, planner, urban designer, planning officer, planning consultant
A town planner is responsible for the design and development of urban areas, such as towns and cities. As a town planner, you would ensure there is balance between demands on the land being developed and the needs of the community. This can be on a national, regional, or local level and requires an awareness of the environmental and economic impacts of a proposed development.
What does a town planner do?
As a town planner, you will be responsible for managing the development of new areas in cities, towns and the countryside. You will review existing areas, assist in gaining planning permission for developments and ensure that developments are assessed for the environmental and economic impacts.
The job role of a town planner involves the following duties:
- Developing planning policy at a national, regional or local level, taking into account transport, the local economy, jobs, green infrastructure, renewable energy, climate change and the historic environment
- Reviewing and monitoring existing planning policy documents
- Assisting with the preparation and implementation of transport policies and strategies to create an efficient transport network, possibly including cycle routes, rail and road routes and or runways
- Helping to ensure that areas are attractive, safe and pleasant to live, work in and visit
- Working to energise places that have become run-down
- Balancing the needs of a growing population with environmental impacts
- Conducting appropriate research to inform planning applications
- Helping to draft and review planning applications
- Assisting with consultations and negotiations with consultants and developers
- Enforcing planning controls for developments
- Preparing policy or guidance documents on how to manage historic environments, or refurbish or re-use listed buildings
- Assisting with the provision of services to clients and contributing to projects
- Producing planning submissions, appeals, design and access statements and other documents
- Managing a client portfolio
- Developing business relationships
- Running public consultations.
How much could you earn as a town planner?
The expected salary for a town planner varies as you become more experienced.
- Newly trained town planners can earn $20,000 – $35,000
- Trained town planners with some experience can earn $35,000 – $40,000
- Senior, or principal town planners can earn in excess of $45,000.*
Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.
How to become a town planner
To become a town planner, you will usually need a degree, which you can either gain at university or whilst working in a supporting role, such as a planning technician, if you have the backing of your employer. You could also complete a college course, a degree-level apprenticeship, or apply to an employer directly if you have some previous experience.
You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.
If you have experience as a planning technician, you could apply directly to a construction company to gain onsite experience as a town planner and gain the necessary qualifications to help you progress on the job. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced town planner and progress as your abilities improve.
Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a town planner. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.
Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a town planner include:
- Good communications skills
- Ability to develop business relationships
- Creative thinking and great attention to detail
- Analytical skills
- Geography and mathematics knowledge
- An interest in improving peoples’ environments.