SPTO - Senior Planning Technical Officer

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
Closing date
25 Oct 2020

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Full Time
Officer, Planner
Central Government
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Senior Planning Technical Officer (SPTO) - £38,334 (National), £42,137 (London)

Various Roles Across the Planning Directorate

We are looking for enthusiastic and ambitious planners to help us achieve our ambitions for planning reform and to deliver our existing policy responsibilities. The Senior Planning Technical Officer post is an exciting and varied role that provides individuals with the ability to use their specialist planning knowledge to lead and develop policy and deliver key priorities at the heart of the Government’s agenda. If working for the Planning Casework unit, officers will also handle and provide advice to Ministers on statutory planning casework.

Applicants for the SPTO roles will require relevant experience (such as planning policy development, development plans or development management), and a knowledge and understanding of the planning system. Applicants must also have or be eligible for membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

All the posts available will involve considerable liaison with other government departments and offer the opportunity to develop your project management, policy making, innovation and strategic thinking skills, as well as the chance to deepen your professional understanding of the planning system and planning legislation and the ability to think creatively about opportunities for improvement.

We currently have vacancies in the following divisions:

Planning Reform: Leading the work to take forward the Government’s ambitious proposals to reform the planning system, including strategy and policy co-ordination, evidence, legislation and implementation arrangements.

Planning Policy: Responsible for the Government’s national planning policy, including the National Planning Policy Framework, housing delivery, and planning policies relating to economic growth and the environment. The division also has responsibility for coordinating cross-directorate projects including for fiscal events.

Planning Development Management: Responsible for policy relating to development management and the end to end planning application process including permitted development rights, appeals, fees, the Planning White Paper, and a range of related areas such as planning enforcement, the historic environment and the compulsory purchase process.

Planning Infrastructure: Responsible for local infrastructure policy, including Section 106, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the proposed new Infrastructure Levy. The division is also responsible for the effective operation of the 2008 Planning Act regime for delivering nationally significant infrastructure project, oversight of the environmental assessment framework for planning and supporting the roll out of mobile and 5G.

Planning Development Plans: Responsible for the plan-making process across neighbourhood, local and strategic planning functions as well as for policy relating to gypsy and travellers. In addition to this the Division also actively engages with local authorities to get plans in place and takes responsibility for Local Plan interventions as well as managing the Department’s neighbourhood planning support contract.

Planning Casework: The division handles around 40 types of statutory casework. Some case types are determined under delegated powers, while others, such as major CPOs, and decisions on whether planning applications should be 'called in' for Secretary of State decision are put to Ministers to decide. The division also deals with appeals which have been recovered and applications which have been called in, where an inquiry has been held by the Planning Inspectorate.

In line with our Beyond Whitehall ambitions, we actively welcome applicants who wish to work in locations outside of London.

Applicants are invited to indicate if they have a preference for particular roles, however, in line with our approach to flexible working, those appointed will be expected to be able to work in any division across the Planning Directorate.


  • Playing a key role in the development of new policy and legislation and other projects to support the work of the Department.
  • Leading on key elements of policy development, including the drafting of Ministerial advice, assessing the impact of proposals and the analysis of consultation responses.
  • Drafting responses to Parliamentary Questions, Ministerial correspondence and provide briefings for speeches and debates to tight deadlines.
  • Managing and analysing qualitative and quantitative data, identifying and interpreting trends and assessing risks working closely with analysts and lawyers.
  • Identify and manage relationships to bring together the views and perspectives of stakeholders to see the big picture affecting activities and policies.
  • Thinking innovatively and strategically to resolve complex technical problems and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Using strong decision-making and judgement skills, with an ability to synthesise and complex issues effectively.
  • Working under pressure, successfully delivering against competing priorities within a fast-paced environment
  • Having a proactive attitude to develop one’s own knowledge of the wider team’s business area. Show a commitment to personal development.

Key Skills

  • Excellent written, presentational and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability and flexibility to develop creative and innovative policy solutions to complex issues in line with relevant departmental priorities.
  • Thorough understanding of project management techniques and ability to lead work with little supervision.
  • Ability to analyse and work with a range of complex and technical evidence to support decisions.
  • Confidence to stand ground when needed and make recommendations when strongly challenged.
  • Can work at pace and confident in delivering to challenging timetables.
  • Thinks strategically and can involve a wide range of internal and external policy leads at appropriate stage of policy development.

Desirable experience

  • Experience of strategy or policy development.
  • Delivery of high-quality products to tight deadlines.
  • Working in a political environment.
  • Some task or line management.

Essential experience

  • Experience of working in town planning or a town planning-related discipline (such as planning policy, development plans or development management).
  • A good understanding of relevant issues, evidence, policy approaches and procedures in planning (including knowledge of the basic legal and institutional frameworks for planning).

Applicants must have or be eligible for membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). You will be asked to provide evidence of this.

We will assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Making Effective Decisions (lead competency)
  • Seeing the Bigger Picture
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace

In addition, we will assess the following during the selection process:

  • Planning Technical Knowledge and Skills

Applicants invited to interview will also be required to undertake a written exercise as part of the interview to assess the following abilities and behaviours:

  • Communication, influencing and organisational skills – the ability to communicate effectively, choosing appropriate styles to maximise understanding and impact
  • Seeing the big picture and making effective decisions – the ability to understand the many different considerations in a piece of work and to draw them together in a reasoned recommendation.


  • Learning and development tailored to your role
  • An environment with flexible working options
  • A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
  • A Civil Service pension
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