What is Planning?

Planning is the process of making decisions to guide future action. The planning profession (which is also referred to as ‘urban planning’ or ‘town planning’) is specifically concerned with shaping cities, towns and regions by managing development, infrastructure and services.

Planners are professionals who specialise in developing strategies and designing the communities in which we live, work and play. Balancing the built and natural environment, community needs, cultural significance, and economic sustainability, planners aim to improve our quality of life and create vibrant communities.

As well as assessing development proposals and devising policies to guide future development, planners work in areas as diverse as housing, energy, health, education, communications, leisure, tourism and transport. They create new, and revitalise existing, public spaces, conserve places of heritage and enhance community value.

The important work planners do is gaining increasing recognition as communities place greater emphasis on ‘liveability’, environmental sustainability, the design and feel of places and public space. People and decision-makers are also increasingly interested in managing urban growth effectively in order to build a nation worth inheriting for future generations.

Planners are at the centre of complex debates about the places in which we live and specialise in areas of planning that include:

  • Urban development
  • Regional and rural planning
  • Development assessment and land use
  • Social and community based planning
  • Urban design and place-making
  • Environmental planning and natural resources management
  • Transport planning
  • Heritage and conservation
  • Neighbourhood and urban renewal
  • Infrastructure and services planning
  • International development


Planners work in a range of areas in Australia and overseas, including:

  • Local, State and Federal Government
  • Private consultancy
  • Property development
  • University research and teaching


As cities and towns continue to grow in terms of size and population, there is increasing demand for planners to manage these changes. Planners frequently work with other professionals such as engineers, architects, building surveyors, economists, developers, politicians, scientists, and environmental scientists.

Planning is a dynamic and ever changing field, and a vital profession in shaping the communities in which we live.

  • Contact PIA today
  • membership@planning.org.au
  • 02 6262 5933
  • 02 6292 9970
  • PO Box 5427 Kingston ACT 2604