Job description: Principal planner

Written by: Harriet Allan
Published on: 8 Feb 2022

Penguin Recruitment

Harriet Allan, team manager at Penguin Recruitment, outlines the typical role of a principal planner. Find out about the day-to-day, key skills, salary, working hours, career opportunities and more.

JD Principal Planner

The role of a principal planner within a consultancy normally comprises a mix of duties from business development and client liaison to project delivery and team management. The sector is incredibly busy at the moment and demand for established and ambitious principal town planners is at an all time high.


The main responsibilities for a principal planner typically include:

  • Mentoring staff to assist in their professional development
  • Business development
  • Technical planning work including liaising with clients, preparing fee proposals, policy research, preparing and submitting applications, preparing written local plan representations and submitting appeals
  • Undertaking site visits
  • Providing expert written and verbal planning advice to clients
  • Project management

Key skills

Some of the key skills you will need to succeed as a principal planner include:

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Strong team management skills
  • Strong commercial knowledge
  • The ability to multitask


Normally, principal town planners will have a BSc / MSc in a town planning related discipline. However, this is not essential if a candidate has strong planning experience. Most consultancies will usually insist on their senior and principal planners being Chartered Members of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Working hours

Typical working hours are 9:00am-5.30pm, although this can vary slightly from company to company.

As we move out of the pandemic (hopefully) we are finding that most companies are offering at least hybrid working (if not fully remote) with flexible hours.

The past two years have shown that it is an industry that can utilise home working of staff and most we’ve spoken to have said that they haven’t seen any negative effect on productivity. The most common scenario we are coming across is for staff to be office based two to three days per week and the rest at home.

With reference to evening or weekend hours, I’ve definitely spoken to principal planners who are sometimes working evenings or weekends in order to get projects finished or to attend a planning committee meeting, but on the whole the role fits within the typical working hours.


As a rough guide, the typical salary of a principal planner ranges from £45,000 per annum to £55,000 per annum, depending on location, skills and experience.

A recruitment expert’s perspective


"The market is busier than I’ve ever seen it so if you are looking to move on for any reason; progression, flexible working, more recognition or just a change of scenery, companies are going above and beyond to recruit."

- Harriet Allan, team manager, Penguin Recruitment

Career opportunities

Your next steps may include:

  • Associate town planner or associate director
  • Planning manager
  • Team leader (local authority)

>> Explore career opportunities with Penguin Recruitment <<