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.

Executive summary

Return to contents


This report considers the size and makeup of the planning profession. It uses Annual Population Survey (APS) data on individuals working in the UK who describe Town Planning Officer as their main occupation. It also draws on the RTPI's membership records and the RTPI Member Survey 2017, both filtered to focus on UK planners who would be likely to fit in the APS occupational group. This is a somewhat limited conception of what constitutes a planner but it likely captures most of the profession. We also compare planning with other built environment professions.

Chapter 2 explores the size of the planning profession and the number of RTPI members currently working in it. We estimate that there are around 22,000 planners currently working in the UK, about three-quarters of whom are RTPI members. This makes the profession smaller than other built environment professions.

Chapter 3 explores the demographics of UK planners. We estimate that around two-fifths of planners are women and three-fifths of planners are men. The most common age group for planners is 35 to 44 (just under a third of the total). The APS estimates that roughly a third are under 35 and a third over 45. If this is correct the RTPI membership is slightly older than the profession as a whole. Compared to other built environment professions planning has a higher proportion of women and under 40s and a lower proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals.

Chapter 4 explores the national and regional split of planners in the UK, and suggests it is similar to the overall working population. We estimate there are around 18,300 planners working in England, 2000 in Scotland, 1000 in Wales, and 600 in Northern Ireland.

Chapter 5 makes estimates about the employers of UK planners. About 44% of planners work mainly in the private or third sectors compared to 56% in the public sector, and there appears to be a trend towards a greater proportion of planners employed in the private sector in recent years. There are around 11,400 planners in the UK at least partially employed by local planning authorities. Planners in England are the least likely to have at least one public sector employer. Amongst wider built environment professionals planners are the least likely to be self-employed (11-13% of the total) and the most likely to be employed in the public sector.

Similarity between the datasets suggests that RTPI members are representative of the wider profession. Estimates from RTPI member data are close to APS estimates about planners in almost every area we considered, including demographics, geographic spread, and sector.

Chapter 6 considers the built environment profession in the EU. Using the European Labour Force Survey it estimates that there are around 87,000 planners in the EU. It also finds major variation between countries in terms of the relative size of each individual profession. This may indicate different boundaries for professions in different countries and/ or relative levels of support for place making.

Finally, we conclude by considering the finding's reliability and remaining research gaps.

Previous PageNext Page