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Skills and competencies for planners

When you are reviewing your CPD and writing your professional development plan (PDP) for the next year you should think about your skills, knowledge and competence as a planner and seek to identify if there are any gaps or development areas that you need to address.

The following list is drawn from RTPI education policy and the government document Skills for Sustainable Communities which the RTPI contributed to. The list provides some guidance of the skills and competencies you may need to develop as a planner:

Creative vision

  • Producing creative and innovative strategies and solutions.
  • Makinglateral connections.
  • Aesthetic and design awareness and critique.

Project management

  • Defining objectives.
  • Delivering- making it happen given constraints.
  • Resource management, including financial and personnel management and use of information technology.
  • Process management and evaluation.

 Problem solving

  • Problem definition.
  • Data-collection,investigation and research.
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis and appraisal.
  • Weighing evidence and evaluation of alternative solutions.
  • Decision making.


  • Inspiring and motivating others at all levels.
  • Leading by example – displaying enthusiasm, tenacity, flexibility and self-motivation.
  • Embracing and leading through change.
  • People and organisational management.
  • Coaching and mentoring.

 Collaborative and multidisciplinary working

  • Partnership working - engaging with all professionals employed in the creation ofsustainable communities and the built environment.
  • Creating an environment where information is shared.
  • Effective networking.


  • Written, oral, graphic and multi-media communication.
  • Listening actively.
  • Using appropriate communication methods tailored to the audience.
  • Managing misinformation.
  • Internal communication and information sharing.
  • Community involvement and facilitation.

 Stakeholder management & conflict resolution

  • Identifying stakeholders and customers, and awareness of how these groups can change.
  • Relationship building.
  • Negotiation,mediation and advocacy.
  • Understanding the dynamics of conflict and how to achieve mutual agreement.
  • Demonstrating the ethics of good practice, including respect, tolerance, confidentiality and honesty.

The level of experience that you have of these skills and competencies will vary depending on the stage of your career, or level at which you work.

We advise that you think about how confident you are across each competency. This process can help you to identify your strengths and your development needs. You can then use these to help shape your CPD and this development may assist in your own career progression.

If you are not currently an RTPI member and contemplating applying for membership we will expect you to demonstrate appropriate competencies for the level of membership. For more information on competencies for:

We also retain a special entry route to membership, for more information about the competencies required please contact the membership team

For many years the RTPI has developed and periodically reviewed its system to ensure planning students, licentiates and all qualified chartered town planners hold the competencies required to be a professional planner. The RTPI has also considered the general competencies that planners as professionals would need to develop in their careers. In order to refine and update this thinking to reflect the current planning environment the RTPI supported a DCLG project to develop a National Competency Framework for Local Authority Planners.

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