Careers Advice: Key areas for professional development

Written by: Jim Dunton
Published on: 25 Apr 2014


Town planners working in the public-sector often experience knowledge and skills gaps, and current training needs are strongly influenced by the increasing requirement to encourage development at the same time as coping with reduced departmental resources.
Penny O’Shea, principal director at training provider Trevor Roberts Associates, looks at four key areas of professional development that assist local authority planners.

Development economics: With the increasing focus on development viability, an understanding of how developers assess profitability and the potential impact of the planning system on profits is vital. The issue of viability affects not just planning agreements but planning conditions, local plans and the Community Infrastructure Levy. Whatever your role in planning, improving your knowledge in this area should be a priority.

Design: The National Planning Policy Framework makes it clear that design remains a government priority for both policy-making and decision-making. The challenge is therefore to encourage new development without compromising design quality. With less design-related advice and support now available, training that helps planners understand the basics of good design and empowers them to integrate it into negotiations, local plans and decision making is essential.

Negotiation: Negotiating with developers, agents, the public or colleagues is a daily occurrence for planners in both policy and development management. But having experience of negotiation doesn’t necessarily make you an effective negotiator. Undertaking training that gives you an awareness of the principles and techniques of negotiation - including recognising when others are using them - can improve your effectiveness significantly, contributing to the achievement of better outcomes.

Personal effectiveness and time management: The pressure to deliver more from less is greater than ever, bringing into sharp focus the concepts of efficiency and effectiveness. Ensuring you use your time well and focus on the right things is key if you are going to achieve your individual and organisational objectives. While these skills don’t necessarily come naturally to everyone, training can provide you with a range of techniques to help you manage your time, feel in control of your job and increase your effectiveness.