What does a development control planner do and could it be the role for you? Matt Fraser, team manager for planning, heritage & urban design at Penguin Recruitment, and Eve Somerville, senior development control planner at Persimmon Homes, share their insights.
Eve Somerville, senior development control planner, Persimmon Homes
A development control planner within the private sector works with communities and local plans to deliver sustainable development and direct land use to create places people want to live and work.
The day-to-day role of a development control planner will vary depending on the sector and organisation.
As a senior development control planner for Persimmon Homes Cornwall, Eve Somerville handles a range of planning applications for both strategic and immediate sites, with a variety of complexities.
As Somerville explains: “My role as a senior development control planner requires fostering a constructive relationship and regular meetings with the local authority and all stakeholders, to drive and project manage development.”
It is important for the planner to work closely with their internal land team, to monitor construction post-decision to ensure the site remains viable, and the development proceeds in accordance with the decision notice.
Some of the key skills you will need to succeed as a development control planner in the private sector include:
- Knowledge of land viability of all of your sites
- A sound understanding of the planning system and land management
- The ability to research land, the framework and local policies
- The ability to write reports, assessments and statements
- A good understanding of design and master planning
- The ability to work under pressure with diligence
- The ability to establish and maintain positive working relationships
- Commercial awareness
To function as a junior planner or planning officer there is capacity to operate without the recognised chartership. There are excellent apprenticeship routes available, as university is not for everyone and should not restrict career progression.
However, for professional development and to be able to represent your company in professional settings such as appeals and seeking counsel, it is essential to be an RTPI member; this evidences the highest standards of professional and ethical behaviours, and a high degree of knowledge.
The standard typical hours are 9-5. However, as Somerville explains: “Due to the nature of the role, no matter your sector, flexible work hours are required as you may be required to attend early or evening meetings and on occasions weekend working. There is also the capacity to work longer hours, which I choose to do.”
Like all businesses, salaries vary between different companies and sectors. The private and public sectors’ planning roles do not correlate like for like, so it is not possible to make a direct comparison. What can be said is that private sector salaries are competitive, reflect market conditions and often attract other benefits not commonly affiliated with the public sector.
Salary levels are negotiated and reflect an individual’s competencies and experience and therefore differs from the public sector where salaries progress automatically up a pay grade, but are restricted once the ceiling has been reached.
A recruitment expert’s perspective
The ever changing landscape of the UK, coupled with the need to deliver for housing to meet the growing population, makes it an exciting time to be a development control planner. DC planners help to shape amazing communities and guard against poor or unsustainable developments.
There are opportunities to work in the public and private sector with the ability to grow into managing complex schemes and, if inclined, more into a management position.
In order to stand out, look for opportunities to gain as much wide ranging experience as possible and demonstrate this clearly in your CV. Your CV should be relatively short and concise, clearly detailing your education, work history, key skills and hobbies/interests.
A development control planner’s perspective
Eve Somerville joined Persimmon Homes as a planner in 2021. Here’s why she loves her job and her advice for prospective planning professionals:
“Everybody deserves a home they can afford, and I have a direct influence on my environment through providing sustainable communities for people to belong to, and thrive in. This is why I love my job, I create.
“Persimmon Homes have given me the opportunity to progress my career at an exciting time, when greater weight is being put on place-making and design at a time of change and there is a desperate need of housing.
“The beauty of planning in the private sector is opportunity, and in the future I see myself progressing within this field of work to continue making better places to live and work in.
“I believe I am a better planner now because I have worked in both the public and private sectors. Too often as planners we build and create difference and voids between our counterparts in the opposite sector. I would encourage jobseekers to experience both sectors; you’re a better planner, you learn easier, you are more useful to the industry. You are present in your field of work and actively contribute because you understand.”
Your next steps may include:
- Senior Development Control Planner
- Development Control Team Leader
- Move into the private sector
- Moved into third sector such as charities or heritage foundations
>> Explore career opportunities with Penguin Recruitment <<