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Hiring a planning consultant
The world of property can be tricky to navigate, but there’s nothing worse than getting everything ready for a new home improvement project only to be blocked by your local planning authority. Acquiring planning permission is complicated, with different local authorities enforcing their own rules and guidelines, which is why many people choose to hire a planning consultant.
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What does a planning consultant do?
A planning consultant knows the ins and outs of a local planning authority’s rules and guidelines, and can help a homeowner ensure that they can get planning permission for their project. There are always complications when applying for planning permission, especially in cities where space is short or with listed buildings whose character must be maintained. A planning consultant can help you by advising you closely on your planning application and helping you navigate the rules of your local authority. They make take an active or advisory role in your planning phase, and will help you attain permission for your project without wasting money.
What makes a planning consultant valuable is their local knowledge. In addition to local planning policy, they will often have intricate knowledge of the local area and will have a standing relationship with local community and stakeholder groups. For example, if a community was against a project, a consultant might prepare a case to show them that the proposed work would not affect them or their own properties. They are also likely to know of projects similar to yours that have been completed in the area and what had to be done to get them approved. However, they will also be used to undertaking specialist research tasks if necessary. It it comes to it, they can also represent you during any public enquiries into your project.
How much does it cost to hire a planning consultant?
The cost of hiring a planning consultant will usually be around £2,000 for a standard application, though this will depend on the experience and rank of your chosen Pro. A price will usually be agreed beforehand based on an hourly rate. More complicated projects, or those that require consistent dialogue with a local planning authority over a long period of time, will incur a higher charge. Remember, planning consultants are usually only brought in for larger or more complicated projects. For more standard jobs, a builder or architect will usually be able to provide all the advice you need.
Remember, the real cost can come from not hiring a planning consultant. If you are refused planning permission at a point where you have already hired tradesmen and sourced materials you will find yourself making a painful loss. Plus, a planning consultant can help you avoid having to make costly revisions down the line if you speak to one early on.
What to consider when hiring a planning consultant
When looking for a planning consultant there are a few crucial things to look out for. Most importantly, all accredited planning consultants must be registered with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Any members will need to have a degree or postgraduate qualification approved by the RTPI and will have years of experience in spatial planning. They may also belong to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
However, local knowledge is important as well; when screening candidates, ask them about the most common difficulties faced when dealing with your local planning authority, and how they have been able to get around these barriers in the past. The RTPI itself has a database of local planning consultants which you can make use of.
Take the time to compare your candidates carefully. They should have reviews from satisfied clientele, as well as examples of previously completed work. Your final choice should also have active Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII), in case their advice or recommendations result in any costly mistakes.