Although I very much enjoy all aspects of a town planner’s remit, over the years I have developed a particular expertise and experience in the following:
Permitted Development Rights
Permitted development (PD) opportunities have grown over recent years and I am finding myself increasingly advising on the use of them as an alternative to a planning application, particularly with respect to residential properties.
Outdoor advertisement planning
Whilst there are some planning consultants who focus entirely on the outdoor advertisement sector, I don’t believe that such a narrow approach is necessarily the most effective one. Significant advertising display applications usually attract a broad range of related issues such as changes to the building carrying the advertisement. The challenges are even greater when a local authority is required to address issues for the first time, given the ever-changing world of outdoor advertising.
My broad experience over many years allows me to consider all the aspects of an application as an inter-related whole. That ‘extra something’ gives me a strong advantage when taking a case through the planning process – sometimes on appeal – and has helped me to secure consent on numerous occasions.
The majority of planning consultants tend to shy away from enforcement matters because of their highly legalistic nature. By contrast, it’s the inherent complexity of the work that attracts me. Over the years I have worked closely with a number of barristers and have developed the deep understanding of planning law indispensable for success in enforcement cases.
Another factor that makes enforcement issues so important to me is their intensely human aspect. Homes are often at risk, while businesses can be forced to close with livelihoods lost. When my experience tells me that people may suffer due to unreasonable restrictions, I will defend my clients’ interest with the utmost vigour. Using my considerable planning knowledge I will assemble all the correct information to present, including witness statements and photographs. When required I will project manage a team of specialists – for example with noise and highway issues – and where necessary personally assist in the drafting of their evidence to present the case. If appropriate, I can also instruct barristers directly.
Heritage asset planning
Whenever conservation areas and listed buildings are involved, including locally listed properties, then highly subjective judgements are usually the norm. It’s a situation where there is simply no substitute for experience. I am able to give a knowledge-based opinion about whether or not a scheme is likely to pass the critical test – will the proposed changes preserve or enhance the character of the building and its setting, or the conservation it lies within?
It all centres on my instinct for ‘how things should be’. This means I can appear as an expert witness for a local authority to defend a case, or alternatively for a developer where I believe a council is resisting unreasonably.
When acting for developers I can also quickly establish whether or not a scheme is likely to work, giving them reassurance to proceed and invest in professional services, for example, so mitigating their commercial risk