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What is CPD?

CPD is an ongoing process of action and reflection which professionals use to maintain and develop their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. It ensures that you are in control of your own development as you set your own objectives based on your needs.

Why is CPD important for planners?

Membership of the RTPI sends a signal to employers, clients and the public as the level of your competence as a professional. It is therefore important to maintain this competence in line with changes in planning law, to the planning system, and to your role.

What is a Professional Development Plan (PDP)?

A PDP is your plan for your development over the next 2 years. It should be a document outlining your current situation, setting objectives, and identifying means of meeting these objectives. Your objectives might relate to maintaining and improving your competence in your current role, or to working towards a change of role or career direction.

How do I produce a PDP?

  • Allow approximately 1 hour. A PDP template is available.
  • Write down all the jobs you are expected to do in your current work, the areas you need to be knowledgeable about, the skills you need and the changes that are likely to occur in the next 2 years.
  • Write down your strengths and development areas. You may want to use a SWOT to help you to identify these.
  • Consider your short and longer-term career ambitions and the timescale to achieve them.
  • Write your CPD objectives for the 2 years to address your development areas and career ambitions.

Think about:
a. How you will achieve your objective
b. How will you know that you have achieved it
c. The time scale for achieving your objectives.

With your completed PDP, you should then:

  • Annually produce a new PDP
  • Regularly review and update your PDP in line with changes in your current work and your future plans

Can I use my appraisal as my PDP?

There isn't a prescribed format for the PDP so you can use your workplace appraisal if it identifies your personal development objectives. However, often appraisals are focussed on work tasks more than your development so you may wish to write your own PDP. You may also want to write your own PDP so that you can focus on your career beyond your current role.

What counts as CPD?

The RTPI is not prescriptive about the types of activity that count as CPD, recognising that you are the best person to assess the value of an activity to your professional development. However, nothing should be automatically accepted as CPD unless you have personally learnt from it. When considering whether an activity counts as CPD you should initially refer back to your Professional Development Plan to see whether it will help your development objectives. We also understand that you may come across unexpected opportunities for CPD that you had not planned for in your PDP. These can be recorded if believe that they will improve your competence but you should explain this in your CPD record and you should update your PDP accordingly. The following provides some examples different types and methods of professional development activity:

  • Home-based learning (H)* - Private study, structured reading on particular themes or topics. Use of audio, video or multi-media resources and other distance-learning material.
  • Action-based learning (A)* - A systematic, structured approach to the solving of problems in the workplace.
  • Preparation of material (M)* - For courses, technical meetings or publication in the technical press.
  • Research (R)* - Supervised research.
  • Work based development (W)* - Background reading, research or preparation required to tackle a new area of work.
  • RTPI activities (P)* - Of a technical or professional nature.
  • Conferences (C)* - Conferences, seminars, workshops or other technical and professional events and meetings including in-house training.
  • Qualifications (Q)* - Courses leading to a qualification.

* Use letter to designate mode of CPD on your record It is recommended that a mix of the above modes be used to give a wider learning experience. If your CPD record does show a very high proportion of one particular mode of activity then you should explain why.

How do I decide how many hours of CPD I should record for each activity?

The RTPI does not assign hours or points to different CPD activities because you are the best person to recognise how much you have learnt from an individual activity. When you are recording an activity you should ask yourself, how many hours of learning did I get from this? For example, where someone has attended a 7 hour conference but already knew the material that was covered during half of the conference they would record 3.5 hours. Another example would be where you have taken on a new area of work and need to develop the skills and knowledge to do it. You may want to count the hours of research and on-the-job learning that you do until you have developed the skills and knowledge that you need and the work becomes part of your day-to-day job.

How should I record my CPD activity?

The Institute does not prescribe a form for CPD records although a template is available. The record must be legible and well presented and include the following:

  • a record of those activities that have helped improve competence and/or effectiveness in planning work;
  • an explanation of the benefit derived from each activity undertaken;
  • the date on which each activity was undertaken;
  • the nature of the activity (e.g. home-based reading, conference etc.);
  • the number of hours attributable to each activity;
  • the relationship between the CPD record and the PDP for the period covered.

Do I have to submit my CPD record?

The RTPI monitors members' CPD activity on a regular basis and those chosen to submit their CPD and PDP records are selected randomly from the membership database. When selected for monitoring, Members will receive a letter from the Lifelong Learning Officer outlining the Institute's policy on CPD and a request to submit their Professional Development Plans and a record of their CPD activity over the past two years. The letter will also provide a timescale for submission. Members failing to comply with the monitoring process may be in breach of the Code of Professional Conduct and subject to investigation by the Conduct and Discipline Panel. This is often a last resort measure and the Institute is keen to ensure that the monitoring process is effective and efficient, and is seen as a service to members. If you have any questions about CPD monitoring please contact the RTPI Lifelong Learning Officer at

I am planning to retire soon; do I still need to do CPD?

Although retired members are exempt from CPD, until you are fully retired and have transferred to retired membership you are required to undertake and record CPD. Your membership of the RTPI is a sign of professional competence and as long as you are still practicing you are required to maintain your professional competence through professional development. When you are approaching retirement you may want to use your Professional Development Plan to plan ways that you continue to use your skills in retirement.

I am on maternity leave/adoption leave; how does this affect the CPD requirements?

Members on maternity leave are exempt from CPD monitoring for six months. This means that you need to record 37.5 hours of learning activity in each two year period. If you take a longer period of maternity leave you are required to keep up to date with your CPD and we recognise that the methods you use for this time may be different from those you would use whilst working. You might want to consider reading the technical press or using your Keeping in Touch days for CPD.

I am taking a career break from planning; how can I comply with the CPD requirements?

All members (apart from retired members) are required to comply with the CPD requirements even if they are not currently working in a planning role. Have a look at our career break information for some advice on how to do your CPD.

Who should I contact?

If you are being monitored and would like to contact the team or you have any enquiries about CPD please contact the Lifelong Learning Officer at:

Royal Town Planning Institute
41 Botolph Lane
Tel: 020 7929 8174 or 078 1529 6095