Job description: Planning officer

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published on: 27 Nov 2018

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What does a planning officer do? Find out about the typical responsibilities, hours, salary and career opportunities.

Planning Officer

Newly qualified planners and those looking to expand on their existing experience can build on an early career in planning as a planning officer. In this role you will provide specialist planning advice to key stakeholders and members of the public whilst managing a caseload of planning applications and processing planning appeals.

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The day-to-day

The day-to-day role of a planning officer typically involves:

  • Giving pre-application planning advice.
  • Preparing planning documentation.
  • Managing the planning application process.
  • Dealing with planning appeals and offering representation where required.
  • Communicating with all stakeholders involved in the planning process.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary according to organisation and sector but may include a combination of:

  • Managing a variety of planning applications, appeals and pre-application enquiries.
  • Producing planning application reports.
  • Delivering excellent customer service to a range of stakeholders.
  • Communicating with relevant parties regarding the status of planning applications and queries.
  • Updating planning IT systems with required data and project status notifications.
  • Supporting and driving service improvement projects.
  • Keeping up to date with planning regulations, policy and legislation.
  • Prioritising your workload and taking a flexible approach to changes in direction.
  • Maintaining continual professional development in accordance with requirements of the professional institute.

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Key skills

The skills you are most likely to need as a planning officer include:

  • Outstanding time management skills with an ability to manage planning application deadlines and submission dates.
  • Strong organisation skills with an ability to juggle multiple projects and prioritise associated administration.
  • Excellent communication, both written and verbal, with a high standard of report writing and confidence to speak with senior leaders, architects, town planners and members of external planning committees.
  • Analytical skills to assess the viability of planning proposals and assess their suitability against the various planning laws.
  • Creative thinking with a talent for practical problem solving.
  • Outstanding IT skills with a track record of using data management systems and a variety of software packages.
  • Great team player and self-motivated.


For a planning officer role you will most likely need the following qualifications:

  • Chartered membership of The Royal Town Planning Institute or The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
  • Minimum degree qualification in town planning or related discipline.
  • Full and clean driving licence may be required.

Relevant experience

The following experience would stand you in good stead for a planning officer role:

  • Minimum of one year’s experience working in the UK as a planner either in the public or private sector.
  • A demonstrable understanding of planning policy and development management legislation.
  • An ability to communicate clearly and negotiate confidently.
  • A track-record of excellent time management skills and an ability to work under pressure.
  • An understanding of, if not experienced in, the planning process from start to completion.
  • Evidence of previous report writing.
  • Experience using IT systems including database management.
  • Excellent administrative capabilities.
  • Experience of managing conflicting workloads and priorities.
  • Evidence of working as a team player with an ability to lead on projects when required.


Standard hours are Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm. There may be a requirement to work irregular hours to fit around particular projects or to respond to planning requests that require urgent attention.


Salaries are dependent upon experience, but a typical salary range is £25,000 - £37,000 per annum plus benefits.

A planning officer’s perspective

“Working at Be First, I believe I am at the forefront of regeneration, with the ability to influence design and help create great places to live, work and socialise.
“In the face of ever increasing pressures to deliver much needed new housing, along with changing legislation and new ways of construction, planners will need to become more imaginative, flexible and think about the bigger picture on how to deliver affordable housing and ensure existing communities are not left behind.”


- Nasser Farooq – principal development management officer, Be First London

Farooq’s top tips for an experienced town planner looking to progress into a planning officer role:

  • Caseload management is critical in any planning officer role
  • Keep communication channels open: the frustration of not being able to contact your planning officer is a common gripe from applicants
  • The importance of front loading assessments to secure the best planning outcome

A recruiter’s perspective

"A planning officer’s role is an integral part of addressing many of the frontline issues facing the planning sector today. With current social and affordable housing issues, combined with a well reported housing shortage, this is an excellent time for talented planning officers to address the hotbutton issues facing both town planners and citizens today.”


- Angeline Jones, town planning consultant, Penguin Recruitment

Career opportunities

Next steps may include: 

Penguin Recruitment is currently recruiting for a range of roles including:

To discuss a number of exciting town planning job opportunities across the UK get in touch with Penguin Recruitment on 01792 957 382.

Browse all the latest planning jobs from Penguin Recruitment

To discuss working with Planning Jobs to support your recruitment campaign or employer brand, please call Jonathan Whitehead on 020 8267 5576 or email / Visit the Wonderful Workplaces hub here to get insider insight about what it's like to work for a range of employers in the planning industry.