International Agreement and Declaration by the National Institutes and Associations of Professional Town Planners within the European Economic Community


    1. The quality of the physical, social and economic organisation of countries, regions and urban and rural areas is a matter of major concern to the public and to responsible authorities within the Community and each Member State.
    2. These authorities recognise the crucial role of national, regional and local physical land use planning in achieving and maintaining physical, social and economic organisation and environmental quality.
    3. The ability of physical land use planning to play this role is dependent upon the existence and availability at all levels in both the public and private sectors of competent and responsible town planners.
    4. It is in the public interest that those using the services of town planners should be aware of, and entitled to rely upon, criteria of competence and conduct observed and recognised throughout the Community.
    5. There are no existing legal obstacles to the free movement and right of establishment of town planners within Member States of the Community but there are substantial differences as between the various Member States of the Community in the definition, purpose, role, scope,

THE UNDERSIGNED NATIONAL INSTITUTES AND ASSOCIATIONS OF PROFESSIONAL TOWN PLANNERS in the Member States believe that it is urgently necessary to join in seeking harmonisation of all matters relating to the town planning profession throughout the Community and have agreed, in particular, to collaborate in establishing criteria of professional competence and conduct which will be observed by their members and recognised by others, and therefore AGREE and DECLARE:

  1. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations of professional town planners in the Member States will formulate a definition of the `professional town planner’ by reference to the field and nature of his activities; to his competence, in terms of his required training and experience; to his professional ethics, in terms of the code of professional conduct to which he is subject; and to his membership of his national Institute or Association.
  2. That the elements of this definition will be embodied in Appendices to this Agreement and Declaration specifying:
    1. the field and nature of the professional town planner’s activities;
    2. educational and training criteria; and
    3. professional and conduct requirements
  3. That this definition shall constitute the minimum recognisable criteria of a `professional town planner’ throughout the Community and may be exemplified by a distinctive symbol.
  4. That those who meet this definition shall be mutually recognised as `professional town planners’ by the undersigned national Institutes and Associations throughout the Community; that the national Institutes and Associations shall be free to prescribe higher standards for their members and that the minimum standard may be raised from time to time by agreement between the national Institutes and Associations.
  5. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations will work towards the harmonisation of their requirements as to education, training and professional conduct with a view to achieving, in due course, mutual recognition of their membership requirements and qualifications.
  6. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations will work towards the harmonisation of relevant courses of study and levels of education offered by the academic institution in the respective Member States and towards the establishment of a European commission on education and training in town planning.
  7. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations will co-operate in exchanging information and in promoting contacts between their members and with other, relevant organisations.
  8. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations will collaborate in identifying major town planning and environmental issues of European significance and in formulating recommendations for action.
  9. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations will establish a Liaison Committee to act as a forum through which to achieve the aims of this Declaration, to act as a point of reference between the town planning profession and the institutions of the Community and to assist the promotion and recognition of the town planning profession in each Member State and in the Community.
  10. That the undersigned national Institutes and Associations will welcome the adherence to this Agreement and Declaration of other relevant national Institutes and Associations in the Member States, their co-operation and support in achieving its aims and their membership of the Liaison Committee.




  1. Town Planning is the process known variously as Town and Country or Urban and Regional Planning, Environmental Planning, Land Use Planning and Physical Planning.
  2. The Field and Nature of Town Planning
    Town Planning embraces all forms of development and land use activities. It operates in all social strata and on several inter-related spatial levels – local, rural, suburban urban, metropolitan, regional, national and international. It is concerned with the promotion, guidance, enhancement and control of development in the constantly changing physical environment in the interest of common good but respecting the rights of the individual.

It makes provision for the future; helps reconcile conflicts of interest, projects physical and social change, facilitates the harmonious evolution of communities and initiates action for the optimum use of resources. It is both a management and a creative activity. It is a catalyst in conserving and developing the present and future structure and form of urban and rural areas. It contributes to the creation of the present and future character of social, physical, economic organisation and environmental quality.

Town Planning is not determinist. It seeks to establish balance and harmony. It draws attention to the possible options, it safeguards freedom of choice for the present and the future. It is so conceived as to be able to adapt to the evolution of circumstances.

Town Planning is rarely an independent process; it must take account of external decisions. It works through and negotiates with the decision making mechanisms of society’s political institutions and public and private sectors. Public participation is an indispensable element in the process. By virtue of its direct involvement with people and their day to day activities, Town Planning inevitably has strong political overtones .

The Skills Required of the Town Planner

Because Town Planning demands a multidisciplinary approach to integrate these complex social, cultural, technical, economic, political and ecological elements, Town Planners are distinguished by their ability to work in teams of Town Planners, with other professions and with representatives of groups concerned with the evolution of the social framework. The methods of Town Planning comprise analysis and synthesis, proposition and programming, creative design, management and administrative skills. Prescribed training followed by continuing professional practice ensure that professional Town Planners have the required competence.

The Work of Town Planners

Whether self-employed, contracted or salaried, independent or an employee, engaged in practice or research, in the public or the private sector, the Town Planner principally undertakes the following tasks, either wholly or in part:

  • identifying the present and future needs of the community and drawing attention to opportunities, effects, constraints and implications of actions
  • proposing policies and plans for initiating, regulating, adapting, enabling and implementing change, having regard to guidance from research
  • designing spatial concepts of the policies and plans for development
  • negotiating towards the realisation of these policies and plans
  • continuously guiding, controlling and implementing these policies and plans in accordance with changing needs and opportunities
  • evaluating and monitoring the effects and implications of actual changes as they occur
  • giving a lead to research and ensuring training schemes


(Appendix A ‘The Charter’)

The Town planner is

  • a researcher
  • a practitioner
  • a proposer of policies and programmes of action
  • a designer of projects, and
  • an implementer

Among the Fields of planning, the Town Planner may contribute to the following activities







Economic Development (Urban & Rural)

Technical resource surveys & appraisal

Strategic integrated physical and economic plans

Integrated physical & economic structure

Monitoring employment generation programs and incentives

Socio-economic surveys and appraisalPriority development projectsNational, regional and local (urban and rural) 
Land use and environmental impact studiesSpecific regional development projectsLand use standards and regulationsDevelopment control regulations
   Environmental protection measures for pollution control
   Community participation

Social Planning Provisional Facilities

Population survey and AnalysisIntegrated development plansStructure and Neighbourhood development plans for new towns, new communities, inner city revitalisation and rural areasIntegrated project funding
Projections  Monitoring
Provision of Facilities   


Technical surveys demand forecastingPriorities and options for accommodating housing need in urban and rural areas.Land use development plansFinance and Management Strategies
Local provision of support facilities Neighbourhood plans (urban and rural) 

Renewal (Urban and Rural)

Technical surveys and analysisOptionsUrban Development and Renewal plans and projectsFinancial incentives
Capability StudiesInvestment Policies Financial and social considerationsRural reclamation and rehabilitation projectsRevolving funds Continuous monitoring and corporate management
Neighbourhood analysis   


Demand forecasting

National, regional, multi-modal transportation plans Plans
Investment Policies

Integrated land use transportationTechnical detailing and finance schemes
Provision of facilities Traffic origin and destination surveys Land use and traffic management plans Traffic/energy/ conservation measuresDevelopment control regulations
Environmental and land use impact appraisals   


Technical studies of resourcesIntegrated national energy strategyOn-site standards regulations for use and re-instatementEnvironmental protection measures and monitoring
Demand analysis and forecastingOptions for provision of requirements and prioritiesNeighbourhood layout and energy conservation schemesManagement schemes
Environmental Impact studiesEnvironmental Protection measures  
Methods of waste disposal and derelict landscape conservationSchemes for Energy which are in the interest of public safety  


Demand forecasting, network surveys and information technologyCommunication modelsSpecific site and land use arrangementsImpact appraisals – continuous monitoring
Provision of facilities and systemsInvestment strategies  
Impact appraisals   


Land use and resource surveyLandscape protection and developmentLandscape design and site planning projectsEnvironmental protection measures and monitoring
Natural environment survey and analysis   


Studies of the natural and man-made environmentsConservation area designationConservation plans from the man-made and natural environmentsFinancial incentives land use and development control
Natural environment surveys and analysisConservation Projects  
 Conservation policies  

Recreation and Tourism

Technical surveysGrowth potential planLocation strategiesInitiatives
Demand forecastingInvestment strategiesSite planningManagement schemes
Impact appraisalRecreation schemes  
 Tourism schemes  

Legal Aspects

Legislation codes and regulationsIntegrated development plansBudget allocation for objectivesLegal proceedings
 Compensation issues  Court hearings
 Co-ordination of related technical expertise  Planning Inquiries
    Public participation


The range of activities covered by the profession differs in each member State of the Community. Within each member state, individual planners may choose to specialise in particular types of activity



  1. Appendix B is a statement of the training of the European Town Planner. The purpose of the training of professional Town Planners is to enable them to acquire and maintain the skills necessary for the practice of the profession as defined by Appendix A (The Field and Nature of the Professional Town Planner’s Activities) and in accordance with Appendix C (Professional Conduct Requirements). It is left to the institution involved to define the methods used.
  2. The status and competence of professional Town Planners requires a training aimed at developing the ability to identify problems and devise solutions
    1. by assimilating the interdependent knowledge of a physical, spatial, technical, social, cultural, economic and political nature,
    2. through an understanding of all the processes involved in planning and in the related disciplines and professions which contribute to planning
    3. through an introduction to analysis, projects and concepts, synthesis, programming, decision making and implementation.
  3. The content of the training shall
  4. encompass and deal with various spatial scales and different time horizons
  5. relate to different living contexts and environments – urban, rural, developed and developing
  6. evaluate and incorporate new developments in techniques and professional practice
  7. consist of academic study and practical experience
  8. encompass the study of the field of Town Planning and Development including the contribution made to Town Planning by other disciplines
  9. include a minimum common core of subjects to be adopted by the Council from time to time which defines the minimum level and quality of the training
  10. The Organisational Structure of the Training shall be as follows
  11. the training should be at university level
  12. the training should bc organised within the framework of:
  13. an undergraduate programme consisting of a minimum of 6 years of training including 4 years full time academic study or equivalent and 2 years practical experience in an approved practice or in research; or,
  14. a postgraduate programme consisting of a minimum of 4 years of training including 2 years of full time academic study or equivalent and 2 years practical experience in an approved practice or in research
  15. contributions from related disciplines should be integrated into the training throughout the entire period of study through teaching programmes, teachers or postgraduate students
  16. professional planners should form part of the teaching body in order to bring about a balance between theoreticians and practitioners
  17. teaching centres should also provide for academic research and higher academic qualifications in the field of Town Planning and Development
  18. Any specialisation of professional Town Planners in a particular area of Town Planning may take place either before the postgraduate Town Planning course of study or subsequent to the undergraduate Town Planning course of study or simultaneously with and as a part of the Town Planning course of study
  19. Complementary training courses in Town Planning shall be organised for the continuing professional development of Town Planners, the training of technicians who assist professional Town Planners, and increasing awareness of members of related professions.



ECTP defines the minimum common core of education and training needed for the planning profession.

This common core is an integral part of Appendix B of the European Town Planners’ Charter, and a fundamental part of the planning profession in Europe.

The language and the order used are formulated in such a way that any European planning school can interpret the common core as appropriate for its own educational requirements.

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXTPerception and appreciation of the physical, natural, human, social, economic and built environments. Knowledge and understanding of the various mechanisms involved in local development, and in creation and use of space, society, the development of the natural environment, the principles of sustainable development and knowledge of local traditions. Understanding of the needs of the individual.
  2. THEORY AND METHODOLOGY OF PLANNINGPlanning history and philosophy; theory; stakeholders’ interests, notions of space and time. Urban policies, town and country planning, city planning: parameters and methodologies, application, synthesis, management, evaluation. Selection and design of tools applicable to urban processes and strategies of agents. Knowledge of potential contribution from other disciplines and appropriate methods for evaluation of public policy. Research training. Understanding the dynamic processes underlying the development of human settlements.
  3. INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORKPlanning law and relevant systems of government and planning administration at national and local level; mechanisms operating in the local economy; significance and legal framework of local practice, understanding and critical analysis of differences between countries. Knowledge and understanding of interrelationships between various levels: national, regional, local, and their particular characteristics. General knowledge of statistical sources, main financial context and indicators of finite resources (human, physical, economic).
    • Demonstrate the particular importance of planning methods, definition of needs, projection and anticipation of future needs. Strategies. Project formulation and simulation. Evaluation of possible results. Ability to work with inter-disciplinary teams, public relations, conflict resolution, fundamentals of applied law; management and co-ordination of the planning process. Plan preparation and adoption. Site planning and plan-making.
    • Understanding of aesthetic values. Basis of the design process; urban design; town plans; comprehensive development plans.
    • Communication techniques: form, content and method of communication with related professions, people and government. Communication methods and skills (spoken, graphic, written, computer).
  5. PROFESSIONAL MATTERSDemonstration of knowledge, approach and competence of professional planners. The planner’s responsibility, ethics/responsibility/hierarchy. Practice guidelines. Codes of professional conduct. Promotion of professional standards, professional organisation.

Text adopted by the General Assembly of the ECTP in Athens November 1995



  1. Professional Town Planners shall conduct themselves in such a manner as to uphold the reputation of the profession in general and their Institute or Association in particular. They shall respect and uphold the professional ethics of the Institutes or Associations of each of the EEC Member States within which they undertake work.
  2. Each Institute or Association will draft its own detailed Code of Professional Conduct. This will embody the following Principles, to which all Town Planners in the EEC Member States agree to subscribe:
    • Competence To take reasonable steps to maintain professional competence at all times, including adhering to advice promulgated by their Institute or Association. Town Planners must ensure that they are well informed about the needs of all sections of society.
    • Responsibility To act always in the client’s or employer’s best interests, provided that the interests of the community shall be paramount; to make full reports and disclosures of all relevant, known facts, risks and consequences.
    • Integrity To safeguard the trust bestowed by the client; not to misuse privileged information; to avoid conflict of professional interest and to ensure that all statements made constitute bona fide professional opinion.
    • Fellowship To seek to eliminate all forms of discrimination; to rely solely on professional capability to obtain commissions; not to seek to supplant another practitioner; and always to notify a previous practitioner on being approached to proceed with work on which such practitioner had been engaged. To work in teams and collaborate with other Town Planners as appropriate. As employers, Town Planners should allow staff to expand their knowledge, experience and ability, and give due recognition to their professional contributions.
    • Other Professions To respect the particular expertise of other related professions and to collaborate with them and seek their expertise whenever appropriate to the nature of the task.
    • Remuneration To be remunerated solely by professional fees, according to any Scale of Professional Charges of the respective Institute or Association, or by a salary; and, not to give or receive discounts or commissions. Fees may be waived when a Town Planner acts in an honorary capacity.
    • Advertising Must be honest, moderate, unrelated to other commercial interests, factually accurate and fair to other practitioners.
  3. Each Association or Institute will be responsible for the observance by its members of these Professional Conduct requirements.