The title of planning and development surveyor covers a wide range of roles and responsibilities. To refer to specific roles within planning and development, employers may use titles such as ‘planner’, ‘surveyor’ and ‘property developer’. There is some crossover between these titles and differences between these job roles can be a grey area. In a property firm, planners and property developers will usually work in the same department.
The majority of planners work in either the public sector or the private sector. The role of planners in the private sector, at its most basic level, is to gain planning permission for developments. Planners will consider a range of environmental, social, design, sustainability and viability concerns when advising clients and colleagues on actions that can be taken to be granted planning permission.
Planners working in the public sector are responsible for putting planning policies in place and deciding whether developments will be granted planning permission. More information on planners in the public sector can be found in the town and country planner job description.
A development surveyor is a surveyor who works in property development. Development surveying is a specialisation of the commercial/residential/rural surveyor job role. Surveyors work to realise the value of land and development surveyors do this by overseeing the process of turning a piece of land into real estate with fully operational buildings. Property developers need to be able to see the potential uses of a piece of land and act to buy, develop and sell this land. Developers working within a property firm will typically work with clients, advising them on how to develop their property. Property developers can also work for property development firms where they will work on developing the property that the firm itself owns.
Typical responsibilities for planners and development surveyors can include:
- overseeing property developments from empty plots of land to fully operational buildings
- researching the local property market
- evaluating development plans, taking into consideration a range of legal, social, financial and environmental factors
- advising clients and colleagues about how developments can be granted planning permission
- preparing and submitting applications for planning permission
- preparing maps and reports
- analysing changes in planning policy and law that may affect property development
- liaising with architects, builders, engineers and other construction professionals
- measuring and valuing land and property
- visiting property sites in order to keep track of developments
- communicating and meeting with clients and colleagues
Typical employers of planning and development surveyors include:
- Property firms
- Planning consultancies
- Property developers
- Local planning authorities
- Central government departments
- Organisations that require property to be managed and developed (such as infrastructure companies or airports)
- Charities that require up-to-date knowledge of planning and property regulations
Planners and development surveyors are able to work internationally, but are advised that planning systems will differ from country to country. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all have distinct planning processes.
Planners and development surveyors work towards a professional qualification called chartership while working. Planners and surveyors become chartered with a professional body; either the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Royal Town Planners Institute (RTPI).
Graduates with RICS- or RTPI-accredited degrees can apply for graduate schemes in property or planning. If you have a degree in a subject that is not related to planning or property, an employer may sponsor you through an accredited postgraduate conversion course alongside a graduate scheme. You can also complete a postgraduate course before applying for graduate schemes.
Depending on the employer, you may join a graduate scheme that rotates graduates around different departments in order to gain the competencies needed for chartership. Alternatively, you could join a scheme where you specialise within a single department, and the employer will make sure you experience a wide enough range of work in order to become chartered. In the public sector, local authorities advertise for entry level graduate jobs in planning and may sponsor your professional body membership and chartership qualification.
It is also possible for school leavers with A levels or highers to become surveyors through an apprenticeship, which will last five or six years and will include completing a degree.
There are also more junior roles in planning and development. School leavers with GCSE or Scottish Standard/Higher 5 qualifications are able to become planning technicians and those with A levels or Scottish Highers can become surveying technicians. School leavers can also qualify for these roles through an apprenticeship. However, it is unclear how common this route is.
Relevant work experience will be beneficial to applications for graduate schemes and apprenticeships. Details of the different forms of experience available in the property industry, and when you should apply for them, can be found here.
- The ability to work on multiple projects at the same time
- Strong analytical skills and attention to detail
- A willingness to travel and spend time out of the office
- Negotiation and relationship building skills
- The confidence to voice perspectives and opinions regardless of how well they are received
- The ability to balance competing viewpoints and interests
- Good communications skills and the ability to work well with a wide array of people
- Interest in the local area and an understanding of the importance and potential consequences of property development