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Planning officers provide advice and recommendations on matters related to town planning to clients such as property developers, local councils and government departments. Typically this involves tasks such as ensuring development within an area is done in accordance to scheme, policy, and community expectations, that drafting needs are carried out accurately and that planning adequately addresses requirements. Planning officers may also be responsible for gathering and maintaining data and trend information, evaluating, processing and submitting development proposals and policies, conducting property inspections and forecasting planning needs and issues.
Because planning officers deal directly with the public, developers and government representatives they require good communication and interpersonal skills. These skills are also useful in writing written reports and orally presenting recommendations at meetings and tribunal hearings. While entry level positions assisting with planning are possible with a tailored undergraduate degree, post-graduate qualifications and extensive experience are often required for managerial roles. Planners often need to relocate or travel and may find an area of specialisation such as commercial and industrial or heritage planning.
The following are an example of planning officer roles. Due to the specialised nature of these positions, employers would generally be looking to recruit experienced or postgraduate qualified individuals.
Often involved in preparing environmental impact statements, and other environmental initiatives for organisations undertaking major structural projects such as the construction of highways, roads, estates, mines, water and power projects. Potential educational paths to this type of role include courses in environmental planning, management and science at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Leisure planners perform research into the sport and leisure needs of different communities. Based on the results of this research they plan, develop and promote various leisure and sport activities and facilities. Typical tasks may include the research and amendment, or development of leisure and sport related policies, advising management and local councils on sport and leisure resources and their community impact and liaising and/or negotiating with various community organisations and sporting bodies. For this specialisation, a leisure, recreational planning, social sciences or similar degree is necessary.
Natural Resource Planner
Professionals in this role are responsible for providing strategic and tactical planning for the assessment and allocation of natural resources such as water from groundwater and surface water systems. To gain employment in this role, experience with specialised equipment such as hydrologic and hydrogeographical services is required.
Social planners assist in the development and implementation of strategies ensuring that social and community issues are taken into account during town planning and development projects. This may involve analysing and researching social trends, policies and programs and performing social impact research and analysis. They also ensure that relevant services and facilities, including housing, are fair and accessible to the community and assist in the development, implementation and co-ordination of community based services and activities. Qualifications and experience in project management and social research are usually required.
Strategic planners ensure councils fulfil their statutory obligations in relation to land development, and provide specialist advice on strategic and economic planning matters, such as Local Environment Plans and Development Control Plans. This invloves assisting in research, preparing documentation, advising on the implementation of policies and legislation and anticipating and responding to planning problems.
Provide recommendations and policies and devise strategies for development of housing, roads, transport and utilities. They take into account information and issues on a broad range of factors such as environmental, legal, social, cultural, economic and health, assess the living needs of a community (for example access to schooling) and accommodate these in their recommendations to council, private developers and government legislators. They may be involved in overseeing a particular geographic zone or individual isolated projects and may also be involved in research relevant to their area of work. Qualifications in geography, project management or logistics may be adequate for entry-level roles though specialised courses are also available at some institutions.