Roles of Planners

The diverse nature of planning provides a wide range of interesting and challenging roles.

A large proportion of planners who are employed in local government are the key decision makers regarding planning for the community. Other planners are employed in the private sector as planning consultants. All levels of Government and related agencies also employ qualified planners.

While there is a diverse career structure, many planners have multi-skilled disciplines which enable them to work in different areas of planning throughout their careers. However some planners choose to specialise and may be involved with social planning, planning law, or environmental planning among other specialisations.

diversity of planning

Learn more about the diversity of planning:

Strategy and policy

State and local government prepare strategy plans and policy that shape the way our environment is managed and developed.

Local Government councils focus on issues affecting their municipality and develop the framework about the use and development of land and making planning decisions.

Planners in local government can:

  • provide pre-application advice to permit applicants
  • initiate strategic studies
  • project manage consultants
  • manage the permit application process
  • assess applications for use and development
  • undertake planning research and demographic analysis
  • provide planning advice about the planning scheme
  • and interact with State Government about policy and any legislative changes.

Heritage and Conservation is a specialised area of planning knowledge related to the use and development of our heritage building assets which are protected.

Planning Law will require the candidate to have a planning and law degree. There are many opportunities for planning lawyers to be engaged in the planning process.


Environmental planning addresses climate change, planning for rural areas, protection of our coastlines and rivers, management of our lakes and waterways, conservation of parks and gardens, waste reduction, energy efficiency and sustainability.

Environmental planning also covers forest management and other natural resource protection. Given the breadth of knowledge required in this area, graduates may choose to specialise. There are jobs in local government, consultancy and State Government for environmental planners.


Planning for the community ensures that there is social equity, space and recreation and employment generation, and that plans promote active and healthy lifestyles for an ever-growing population. Planners can work as social planners considering the needs of the community, or economic development officers and help revitalise retail shopping precincts through strategic policy directions. There are also jobs in the private sector preparing a variety of reports for different sectors.

A vital component of planning is mediation and conflict resolution where there is a neighbourhood dispute about a proposed building for example. The process of community consultations and mediation is an important skill set for all planners.

The ability to project population with detailed demographics, interpreting the census and identifying the needs of different community groups is another vital ingredient to successful planning. Specialisation in research methods and data interpretation would be a valued skill in all employment sectors.


Urban design is the practise of shaping the natural and built environment to create places for people that function well and to make high quality connections between people, places and buildings.

While creating places for people, urban design must respect and enhance the natural environment and use resources efficiently.

Consideration must be given to resources serving the needs of the people including roads, subdivision layout, public transport, schools, hospitals, retail precincts and commercial buildings.

Specialist urban designers may be architects or planning graduates who have undertaken further studies in urban design. However all planners should apply urban design principals to decision making.

Successful urban spaces are safe, inclusive, ecologically sustainable, adaptable, engaging and distinctive.

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