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Emma Jones

Emma Jones

Emma has over 20 years’ expertise supporting clients to find creative and commercial town planning solutions.

Do I need a planning consultant?

With the exception of “do I need planning permission?”, I’m consistently asked the same two questions when I tell people what I do for a living. The top question is what exactly is a town planner, usually asked with a slightly embarrassed look of befuddlement. In at second place, and the subject of this blog, is – why do I need a planning consultant?

The answer is rarely clear cut – some might say just like planning itself – and is dependent upon the likely complexity of a proposal and how controversial it is likely to be.

I always make it clear to prospective clients if planning is likely to be straightforward and would not justify the cost of town planning consultancy services. In fact, many architects are perfectly capable of handling planning submissions – but if your proposal is likely to attract objections or you want to understand what can be achieved over and above policy and regulations, then Acer Town Planning is expertly placed to advise upon the best strategy.

Local and national planning policies, case law, precedent and legislation are all constantly evolving and it’s a planning consultant’s job to be up to date and know the quickest and most straightforward way to work with and around this framework to unlock development.

town planner at her desk

Though it is usually possible to obtain pre-application advice from your local authority planning department, it is not uncommon for planning departments to be overworked and under resourced. You should also bear in mind that there may be little incentive for a time-stretched local authority planner to advise applicants on how to work around their own policies, particularly if it is a proposal they do not like.

I was recently brought on board by an architect to help with a planning application for a large dormer window that was due to be refused by the planning officer unless significant amendments were made to the design as it was contrary to their design policies. I was able to advise the architect and the client that, with just a few design tweaks, the proposal would comply with the permitted development regulations and be outside of the Council’s control. This was confirmed through the submission of a Certificate of Lawful Development.

Employing a planning consultant can add significant value for property owners and occupiers, such as landlords and businesses. Examples include: justifying changes of use that are contrary to policies; minimising the number of conditions attached to decisions; planning appraisals of assets and proposals to advise on options, strategy and likelihood of success.

It is very common for a planning consultant to be brought on-board to advise upon the best strategy following a refusal of permission. Employing a planning consultant at the outset of a project can save a lot of heartache, money and time in the long-term.

Get in touch today on info@acertownplanning.co.uk or 07378 814576 for an honest assessment of whether Acer Town Planning could add value to your project.

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