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Planning policy officer

An image of a town plan to show the sort of documents that planning policy officers work with.

What do they do?
Develop the policies councils use to determine planning applications in their areas, covering issues such as the location, mix and amount of housing, employment, landscape and ecology, renewable energy, transport and the protection of our historic buildings.

What’s a typical day like?

It’s mainly an office based role. A typical day could involve: coordinating consultation exercises with the public, putting together the evidence base for policies, working on siting suggestions for local renewable energy technologies, deciding where housing should go and how much of it is needed, deciding proportions of affordable housing in new developments, planning how provision of sustainable transport infrastructure may be delivered (e.g. cycle lanes), researching a variety of subjects to feed into development of local plans, assisting local or parish councils preparing neighbourhood plans.

This career would suit people with: 


  • Good organisational skills

  • Good team working and people skills

  • An ability to communicate with a wide range of people including developers, elected politicians and the general public

  • An interest in environmental issues and architecture

  • An ability to be a jack of all trades and know enough about all sorts of different subjects, including ecology, architecture, trees, flooding, planning law, noise and road design!

  • Anability to see different viewpoints

  • An ability to work with data

  • An ability to produce good written work

  • Patience, as planning policies can take years to develop and adopt, and therefore policy officers might not see the effects of their work for several years


What makes it a green career? 

The job offers an opportunity to draft planning policy which protects the local environment and shapes responses to adapt to climate change on a local level. It’s an important job that helps to translate national level policy into local level action and involves all three strands of sustainability – environmental, social and economic.

What qualifications do you need?

An undergraduate degree in geography, environmental sciences, engineering or similar would be helpful as well as a Masters degree in Town and Country Planning or similar. Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

How much would you earn?    

Starting salary approx. £18,000 per year.

Senior planners can earn up to £35,000 per year.

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