New scheme aims to tackle planning officer recruitment issues

The Government this week announced a new £1.59 million grant to fund and support a pilot scheme aimed at getting graduates into the planning sector.

The Pathways to Planning Programme will place around 30 talented graduates in councils, while receiving a bursary to study towards a planning masters.

The initial funding from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities will go to support the Local Government Authority in setting up and delivering the programme.

Minister for Housing and Planning, Rachel Maclean said:

“Delivering a modern and efficient planning system is vital in shaping our neighbourhoods and communities. We want to place the next generation of planners on the frontline to design beautiful homes and provide high quality infrastructure right across the country.

“We are bringing in ground-breaking reforms to speed up the planning process through the Levelling Up Bill, and it is essential that local councils are equipped with the right skills and resources as we continue to level up towns and cities that people are proud to call home.”

It follows a report by the LGA earlier this year which showed that almost 6 in 10 councils (58 per cent) were struggling to recruit planning officers, impacting on the ability of councils to plan and deliver new homes. 

The 2022 Workforce Survey found that more than 9 out of 10 councils were experiencing wider staff recruitment and retention difficulties. Other council departments facing these challenges included adult social care, environmental health and building control.

Applications to the Pathways to Planning scheme will open on Monday 18 September 2023, with graduates placed with councils by March 2024.  Local Authorities wishing to submit an expression of interest for the programme are being asked to email with their council name, contact details and the number of placements requested.


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