This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best possible experience. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this. You can find out more about how we use cookies here. If you would like to know more about cookies, or how you can delete them, click here.

Annual convention puts spotlight on the planning profession

19 June 2019

The RTPI’s annual convention in London today sees the launch of the most comprehensive study to date of the state of the planning profession.

The current state of the planning profession

Undertaken by the RTPI to look at the size and makeup of the planning profession in the UK, the study finds that the private sector in England is attracting more town planners than ever, but this is a trend that is happening at the expense of the public sector.

The study also finds that there are now around 22,000 practising planners in the UK, making it one of the smallest built environment professions.

According to Office of National Statistics, there are around 22,000 practising town planners; 53,400 architects; 60,300 chartered surveyors; 43,300 quantity surveyors; 73,000 construction project managers and related professionals; and 24,100 architectural and town planning technicians.

Other key findings

  • There are around 18,300 practising planners in England, 2,000 in Scotland, 1,000 in Wales, and 600 in Northern Ireland
  • Planning has a relatively high proportion of women (40% - compared to 25% of architects and 13% of chartered surveyors) and under 40s (over 50%), and a low proportion of black and minority ethnic individuals (3-4%)
  • About 75% of town planners in the UK are accredited by the RTPI
  • Around 11,400 planners in the UK are at least partially employed by local planning authorities, with about 10,500 exclusively working for local planning authorities
  • There is roughly one planner per 3,000 people in the UK, compared with roughly one planner for every 1,000 people in The Netherlands

The RTPI’s UK Planning Profession 2019 study is based on four sources of data: Office of National Statistics Annual Population Survey; RTPI member survey 2017; RTPI membership record; and the European Labour Force Survey.

Read the full report here.

Corporate status of planning in local authorities

Chief Executive Victoria Hills also gave a preview of the second part of an RTPI study into the corporate influence of planning in local authorities.

In 2018 the RTPI revealed that only 23% of the 212 local authorities it investigated in the UK had a head of planning that reported directly to the Chief Executive. It also found that 9% of local authorities had no clear role assigned to the head of the planning service.

A follow-up study in 2019 conducted 15 in-depth interviews with current and past local government senior management staff.

It confirms that decades of sidelining planning’s importance as a strategic function within local government has reduced many councils’ ability to advance their corporate agenda and tackle social, economic and environmental challenges effectively.

The report will be officially launched on 2 July at the Local Government Association’s annual conference.