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Town Planning Support Staff

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Town Planning Support Staff

The Work

Town planning support staff help to process planning applications submitted by individuals and businesses. This is a broad role that includes everything from giving advice to the public, to technical planning and office duties.

As a support staff member, your responsibilities would include:

  • preparing reports for internal and external publications
  • recording minutes at meetings
  • building and managing technical libraries, filing systems and databases
  • drawing up designs, using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • carrying out data surveys, for example traffic impact assessments
  • supplying information and data to planners for applications
  • recording the progress and outcomes of planning applications
  • organising public meetings
  • answering enquiries about application procedures.

You might also work in planning enforcement, which would involve:

  • working with individuals and businesses to make sure that they comply with the conditions set out in their application decisions
  • gathering information to use as evidence in disputes
  • presenting reports on breaches to planning committees or, where necessary, to magistrates and judges.

You would usually work for a local authority, independent planning consultancy, government department or a private company, for example a property developer.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work around 38 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with the possibility of part-time and flexible hours.

You would be mainly office-based, but you may be expected to carry out site visits and attend meetings and conferences.

Skills and Interests

  • technical drawing and computer-aided design (CAD) skills
  • a working knowledge of common office software and desktop publishing
  • an understanding of local and national planning regulations
  • good maths skills for data handling
  • the ability to read technical diagrams and maps
  • strong communication skills, spoken and written
  • good organisational skills
  • the ability to deal tactfully, calmly and objectively with clients
  • good teamworking skills
  • the ability to work to a high degree of accuracy
  • good customer care skills.


Most employers will expect you to have GCSEs or A levels, in subjects like maths, English, geography, IT or economics, or equivalent qualifications.

Specific qualifications and/or experience in surveying, CAD design, construction, information management, administration or law may also be useful skills for getting into this career.

See the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) website for more details about careers in this field, and the LGcareers website for information about local government planning.


You would normally receive on-the-job training from your employer, which may be combined with study for the NVQ Built Environment Development and Control at levels 3 and 4.

This NVQ has optional units depending on your area of work, including:

  • gathering, analysing and presenting data
  • administrative duties
  • preparing charts and graphical information
  • dealing with breaches of legislation.

The NVQ in Construction Contracting Operations levels 3 and 4 has units covering some of the technical aspects of planning support work.

With a qualification at level 3 or higher, and at least two years' relevant work experience, you could improve your career prospects by applying for RTPI technical membership (TechRTPI). See the RTPI website for more details.


Most town planning support staff work for local authorities and consultancies. You might also find opportunities in the planning departments of house building firms, supermarket chains and utility companies.

With experience, you could progress to team leader or move up to technician level. With further study, you could become a fully qualified town planner. See the job profile for town planner for more details about this role.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in new window)

LG Jobs
Jobs Go Public
Planning Resource

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • Starting salaries are between 14,000 and 18,000 a year.
  • Experienced staff can earn between 18,500 and 23,000.
  • Qualified technical staff with supervisory duties can earn up to 28,000.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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