Future Planners Project Report

A new report published (15th July 2022) has said there is a need to introduce new initiatives to increase the number of planners working in Scotland. These include introducing a planning apprenticeship scheme, increasing the number of planners graduating through funded postgraduate opportunities and better promoting planning as a career. 

The Future Planners Project Report was funded and supported by Scottish Government and has been published by Heads of Planning Scotland, Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland and Improvement Service. It was commissioned to explore how to grow entrants into the planning profession in Scotland at a time of budget reductions in planning departments, unprecedented vacancies, a recognised need for 700 new planners over the next 10-15 years, an increase in statutory planning duties and difficulties in recruiting and retaining qualified and skilled planning staff. 

Planning Minister Tom Arthur said: “I welcome this important and timely report and am grateful to Heads of Planning Scotland, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Improvement Service for their work towards ensuring Scotland’s planning services are well placed to deliver the reformed planning system and help meet our net zero ambitions. It is an exciting time for people to be entering the planning profession as we complete work on Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework and look to reposition our planning system to face up to the big challenges around climate and nature.

I am very well aware of the importance of having effective, high-performing planning services to make that happen. I have been pleased to hear news from some local authorities of the recent fee increases being reinvested in planning budgets and staff recruitment. Building a workforce with the right skills is vital as the Scottish Government helps deliver a sustainable economy, and that is why I have been so keen to support this Future Planners programme.

Pam Ewen, past Chair of Heads of Planning Scotland, said “I witness the issues raised by this report on a daily basis so very much welcome its recommendations.  Planning departments across the country are doing their utmost to meet the growing list of statutory duties but, simply said, we need more people to do this. Unless action is taken there is a real danger that Scotland’s planning authorities will simply not have the skills, resources, and staff hours available to deliver a high-quality, functioning planning system.”

Craig McLaren, Director of RTPI Scotland, commented “Planners are often the unrecognised part in delivering ambitions on a post-Covid economic recovery and on net zero carbon targets.  There is a predicted increase in demand for them over the next 10 years and, given this, I am pleased to see that the report highlights the need to invest in the planning service to ensure that we attract more people into the profession now and in the future.

For media inquiries contact Pam Ewen at

The report can be downloaded here

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