Job description: Town planner

Written by: Jennifer Jackson
Published on: 25 Jun 2019

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What does a town planner do? Learn about the typical day-to-day, key responsibilities and career opportunities you can expect from this role.

town planner

Town planners help shape the way towns and cities develop, balancing the demands placed on land by housing, business, transport and leisure, with the needs of people and the community.

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The day-to-day

The day-to-day role of a town planner will vary by organisation and sector but here is a typical list of some of the key tasks you can expect to undertake:

  • Researching and preparing planning proposals and policies
  • Writing reports and recommendations
  • Planning renewable energy generation sites such as wind farms
  • Redesign urban spaces to make them safer and more environmentally-friendly
  • Organising meetings to listen to ideas and hear concerns about planning proposals from local people
  • Attending site visits and client meetings

Key responsibilities

As a town planner you will typically be responsible for:

  • Managing clients throughout the planning process
  • Developing parks, woodlands and waterways in a sustainable way
  • Developing planning policies for local and central government
  • Assessing the impact of new transport schemes, such as new rail links or road proposals
  • Making decisions about planning applications
  • Advising the public, businesses and land developers on planning policies, rules and regulations
  • Enforcing planning rules and regulations on building projects

Key skills

The key skills you’ll need to succeed as a town planner include:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Team work
  • Client management skills
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Project management
  • Report writing
  • Surveying skills
  • Geographical information systems (GIS) and computer aided design (CAD) software skills
  • Ability to interpret complex data
  • A good understanding of UK planning policies and process


An RTPI-accredited degree or postgraduate qualification is usually required, and some organisations may require a master’s degree in urban planning or a related field. You will also need a full and clean driving licence. It is possible to qualify as a planner whilst working in a related role such as a planning technician, if you can get the support of your employer, but you will need at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C and at least three A levels.

If you’re looking for your first role in planning, contact your local council or planning organisation to see if there are any opportunities to volunteer or undertake some form of work experience to find out what it’s like to work in planning.


Standard working hours are Monday-Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm. You may need to work additional hours to meet particular project deadlines or to respond to urgent planning requests.


Town planners can typically earn anywhere between £20,000 to £40,000 plus benefits, depending on experience and organisation.
A recruitment expert’s perspective:

"The planning market has been consistently busy over the past four years since I joined Penguin Recruitment. It’s been really pleasing to see so many new companies enter the market, which testifies to the growth of the planning sector. Multiple mergers and acquisitions have excited the market and we continue to see a high volume of vacancies across the UK, from graduate through to director / partner level.


It seems to me that in order to be successful in this market you will have an interest and care for the built environment with a desire to see sustainable development happen that creates fantastic spaces for residents and businesses alike, where everyone can flourish.

Typically, you will be a strong communicator with the ability to develop rapport quickly. The private sector looks for a degree of tenacity and the ability to deliver to their clients expectations. Meanwhile, the public sector looks for candidates with a keen eye for detail, ensuring development proposals meet the required conditions set out in the local/national plan. "

- Matt Fraser, team manager - Planning, Penguin Recruitment

Career opportunities

Your next steps may include:

Penguin Recruitment is currently recruiting for the following town planning roles:

Explore town planning jobs from Penguin Recruitment