Architects may have to prop up planning services

Looking ahead in to 2018, Landmark Information is predicting that there will be greater reliance on architects to provide enhanced planning services, in a bid to maintain the steady progress of applications.

This comes at a time when local authority planning departments are continuing to face increasing resource and financial constraints.

In a Planning Futures survey released last month, it found that on average Local Authority planning departments have seen a 15% reduction of staff between 2006 and 2016, restricting their ability to offer efficient and robust planning services.

This increased to a 24.2% reduction when looking specifically at Unitary Authorities and Metropolitan Districts, which each saw the largest losses of planning department personnel.

Jake Hawkey, Consultancy Manager at Landmark Information said, “Through constant correspondence with the Local Authorities, we believe that the increasing pressure facing their planning departments is not going to subside as the push to create more new homes, and support overall development across the country, is maintained throughout 2018.

“We are already talking to architectural practices that have started to take on more planning-related services, as clients look to find ways of avoiding potential delays to applications. This includes addressing land contamination constraints or conditions attached to approved planning applications.”

Hawkey added, “This typically begins with a desk based Phase One environmental risk assessment, which establishes key information about the previous use of site and nearby land. Where there is an unacceptable risk, further investigations may be required to demonstrate the development is safe to proceed, or recommend appropriate remediation that will make the risks acceptable.

“Sadly, there is typically no longer the funding available to Local Authorities to proactively investigate sites that could be contaminated; therefore, there is greater onus to address contamination concerns at the planning and development stage. We are already supporting firms in delivering intelligence relating to a site or address, and believe this will increase as we move through the coming year.”

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