CAD Divider

Planning consultancy – your top four questions answered

Aug 14, 2023

By Laura Potts MRTPI, Planning Consultant, CAD Planning

In house planning consultancy within an architects’ firm is still a relatively new concept and CAD Architects are one of only a few RIBA Chartered practices in Cornwall and Devon to offer this service.

So, not surprisingly, we do find that our clients often have questions as to how we work and why this will add value to their project. So this brief guide sets out answers to four of the most frequently asked questions we receive about planning consultancy.

What does a planning consultant specialise in?

A planning consultant is a qualified expert with specific knowledge in the field of planning permission –they are experts in navigating the UK planning system. That means they have in-depth understanding and insight about the planning permission application process, the decision-making process and the appeals system, at both national and local level. Planning consultants are ideally placed to understand the perspective of the local authority and advise on the requirements and possibilities for building works within your local area. They are likely also to have an established relationship with the local authority, which can make the process smoother.

At CAD Architects, you will find your architect and your planning consultant work in close collaboration.

What is a Chartered Planning Consultant?

At CAD Planning, our consultants are Chartered Planning Consultants who are members of the Royal Town Planning Institute. This represents the gold standard of planning practice, widely recognised for their skills, expertise and professional practice.

Throughout their career, Chartered Planners make sure they remain at the forefront of new developments, legislative changes and the latest planning knowledge by maintaining continuous professional development (CPD). They must also adhere to the Code of Conduct of the Royal Town Planning Institute that specifies standards of professional ethics.

Chartered Members use the designation MRTPI.

At CAD Planning, we are growing to meet increasing demand and we are looking forward to welcoming a new Chartered Planner to our team this month.

Why can’t an architect do the planning application?

They can.

In many other practices, architects do undertake the planning application for a client.

However, this is not what architects are specially trained to do and they are not likely to have all the up to date specialist knowledge of a dedicated planning professional. In addition, it is not the best use of an architect’s talents and creativity to spend their time on planning applications and liaison with local authorities.

It is far better that planning guidance is sought at the outset of the project, from a planning professional, and can then be used by a qualified architect to inform and aid the creative design process. This ensures that the architect focuses on developing a design that is most likely to be successful in the planning application process.

This fruitful collaboration ensures that everyone in the team is as productive as possible and that your project is delivered as efficiently and speedily as possible

What do I need first– a planning consultant or an architect?

This is a very common question we are asked.

In your natural enthusiasm for a new project, it can be tempting to want to rush into commissioning architects’ drawings that bring your ideas to life. But unless these drawings fully take into account national and local planning considerations, then they are likely to be turned down by the council’s Planning Department and you will have wasted time and money. It could be a case of ‘back to the drawing board!’

It is not strictly necessary to have to have planning advice at the outset of a project but if you want to avoid costs, resubmissions and time delays, then it is a logical first step.

In a nutshell, in order to turn your dream into reality and complete your project as efficiently as possible, then you will ideally need both a planning consultant and an architect on board. That is why at CAD Architects, we provide both planning consultancy and architectural services as a ‘one stop shop.’

Our planning consultancy service, CAD Planning and our talented team of RIBA Chartered architects work collaboratively from concept and design right through to project completion.

So if you ask us to deliver your project, you can rest assured you will benefit from exactly the right specialist inputs at every stage, leading to the best possible outcomes.

To find out more about how Planning Consultancy can add value to your next project, contact