Town planning support staff work for a number of agencies including local authorities, independent planning consultancies, government departments and private companies.
They assist in the planning application process and can be involved in a variety of duties such as:
Administrative work – preparation of literature for internal and external publications; compiling minutes of meetings; management of technical libraries, filing systems and databases; recording progress and outcomes of planning applications; retrieving information and data required by planners for a particular application; organising public meetings; frontline support work with the public, advising on application procedures and dealing with straightforward queries.
Enforcement work – liaising with individuals, organisations and developers to ensure compliance with any conditions attached to their planning applications. This may involve gathering information and data with a view to using it as evidence should disputes arise. The role also involves presenting reports on breaches to planning committees or, where necessary, to magistrates and judges. Tact and diplomacy are essential for this role.
Technical work – support staff may also work as planning technicians, assisting with the application process. This can include compiling data by attending public meetings or carrying out surveys, for example, traffic impact assessments; drawing up designs using computer-aided design (CAD) software; building and maintaining databases, holding information relating to applications; putting together presentations for committee meetings; advising on minor planning applications.
With experience, some supervisory duties may be coupled with the role.
Town planning support staff normally work office hours, Monday to Friday, with part-time and flexi-time arrangements becoming increasingly available.
Work is usually office-based but may involve accompanying town planners to site visits, meetings and conferences.
To work in town planning support, you should:
The majority of town planning support staff are employed by local authorities and consultancies. Some large firms such as house-builders, supermarkets and utility companies also employ support staff to assist in their planning departments.
Progression is normally to team leader roles or technician level. With further study, it may be possible to become a fully qualified town planner. See Town Planner profile.
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