Planning technician: job description
Planning technicians, also known as assistant planning officers, provide support for planners through administrative, technical and practical work.
Planning technicians are employed in many UK government and local authority offices.
A crucial process in the property industry is the gaining and granting of planning permission, and planning technicians assist planning officers in examining planning permission procedures and assisting clients applying for planning permission. Planning technicians can either work in the public sector or in the private sector. Planners working for private firms consider the social, environmental, design and economic consequences of developments and advise clients as to how to be granted planning permission. In the public sector, such as in local planning authorities, planners review applications and determine local planning policies.
Planning technicians have a similar role to planners and planning and development surveyors. However, planners will have more responsibility than technicians, as planning technician is the more junior role. As such, technicians typically carry out the day-to-day support work needed to enable planners’ work.
The typical responsibilities of planning technicians include:
- responding to queries about the planning permission application process
- collecting, analysing and recording data on the progress of planning permission applications
- checking and researching legislation and laws relevant to planning
- writing up reports for both internal and external publications
- attending and taking minutes of meetings
- liaising with property developers to make sure that developments correctly follow planning policies (in the public sector)
- meeting with property developers and other private clients to discuss how developments can be granted planning permission
- negotiating amendments to proposed plans
- preparing, revising and reading maps and technical drawings
Typical employers of planning technicians include:
- Local planning authorities
- Property firms
- Central government departments
- Specialist planning agencies
- Organisations that require property to be managed and developed (such as infrastructure companies or airports)
You are most likely to find planning technician roles within local authorities.
The planning technician role is an entry-level job in planning. Employers usually ask for candidates to have GCSE or Scottish standard/national 5 qualification, although, depending on the employer, they may require candidates to have A levels or highers. A degree is not a requirement to become a planning technician and if you have a degree you may be able to become a planner instead.
There are apprenticeships in town planning technical support, which are accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and involve working towards planning technician relevant qualifications while being supported by an employer.
It is also possible to become a planning technician with a vocational qualification, such as a HND.
Planning technicians can progress to become senior planning technicians or technician team leaders.
Most employers will expect planners to gain a professional qualification with the RTPI or Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) while working. This is called the assessment of professional competence (APC) and allows planners to call themselves chartered planners. After at least two years of experience of working in planning, technicians are able to join the RTPI as an associate. Technicians can then begin the APC and work towards becoming chartered planners after two years as an associate. Technicians with at least six years of experience can complete the APC as an experienced practitioner and become a chartered planner. Employers may sponsor you through this process.
While searching for graduate training schemes in planning, graduates can gain practical experience by working as a planning technician.
- Attention to detail and an ability to accurately convey information
- An interest in planning regulations and the local property market and the ability to keep up to date with them
- Strong communication and relationship-building skills – technicians may be the first point of contact for clients
- Organisational skills, as technicians can work on more than one project at the same time
- Willingness and ability to travel. You may require a full driving license