What is town planning?

Town Planners manage the competing demands on the use of space, balancing social, economic and environmental needs to shape the way that towns and cities grow.

Planning covers a very broad area, but planners’ work includes designing new towns or villages, ensuring legislation is upheld, protecting historical and important buildings and ensuring that suitable land becomes available for development.


What’s required for the role?

  • Excellent communication skills, including negotiation skills
  • The ability to work well with clients, communities and other professionals
  • Commercial awareness
  • Strong organisation skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Project management skills
  • Creative thinking, problem solving and analytical skills to come up with imaginative solutions to planning problems

The details

Learn more about the role

What's the role like in practice?

Town planning is a varied area and many people choose to specialise in one particular area, such as urban design or conservation.

Town Planners assess planning applications, consult with stakeholders, carry out relevant research and data analysis.

They may need to negotiate with developers and other professionals, attend public presentations and present at planning boards, appeals and public inquiries.

What's the work environment like?

Mainly office based but with some site visits and client meetings or presentations.

What qualifications are required?

A non-cognate or RTPI accredited degree is usually required. Planners can work towards Chartered status with the Royal Institute of Town Planners (RTPI).

Is it for you?

You might like if you enjoy:

  • Using technology and design skills to develop innovative solutions
  • Using perceptual skills to interpret maps, charts and diagrams

Other useful skills to have:

  • Project management
  • Using verbal and written communication skills
  • Working with different people such as clients, contractors, and the general public
  • Creativity and problem solving
  • Analysing and identifying patterns in data


How are Town Planners responding to the need for sustainability?

As the global population of cities increases, effective planning can become a driver for sustainable futures, for example designing urban and rural areas with low-emission activity and low-carbon lifestyles in mind.

Planners can influence a global response to human displacement and embed self-reliance through effective planning for sustainable societies, infrastructure and economies.

Challenges such as increased urbanisation, climate change, food insecurity, inadequate infrastructure, increased energy demand and social inequalities are some of the challenges where planners can make a difference.

Employment opportunities

Where will it take you?

Town Planners can work in the public sector for local or national government bodies, although opportunities also exist in the private sector, in planning consultancies, firms of chartered surveyors, and public utilities.

Whilst many students have an RTPI accredited degree, there may be opportunities for non-cognate graduates to study for a planning qualification whilst working.

An apprenticeship route is also available.

Find out

Explore the role


Bridget Wells

Careers Adviser


+44 (0)118 921 4392

Admissions Team


UK (Free): 0800 019 9697 (Option 1)

International: +44 (0)118 921 4696 (Option 1)

Enquiries Team


UK (Free): 0800 019 9697

International: +44 (0)118 921 4696