Getting started

Using a planning consultant

Why should you use a planning consultant?

Planning permission can be extremely difficult for the layman to grasp, particularly given the fluctuating nature of legislation. Consultants have an expert knowledge of regulations and can therefore play a vital role in obtaining permission for projects with complex needs. 
Even if you have a knack for understanding intricate rules, securing permission is not just about the technicalities of an application. You will also need to know how to navigate the politics of planning - obligations, charges, officers, committees and appeals. Planning consultants are experts on the entire process and can draw on a wealth of experience.

A planning consultant may help with the smooth running of your project. To find an accurate consultancy quote, explore Studio Charrette's calculators.

Consultants can also offer expert insight on how best to approach a project to achieve the desired outcome. Their input can help you refine your plans to ensure you are pursuing the most suitable options for your development.
Employing a consultant will not guarantee you approval, but it will significantly increase your application’s chance of success.

When should you use a planning consultant?

You should engage a planning consultant if securing permission for your project will not be straight forward, especially if it will require the interpretation of planning policy and local development plans. Having an expert on board will not only help the planning process run more smoothly, it will also provide you with a valuable sense of reassurance.

It’s important to bring a consultant on at the beginning of the process, since if a plan is refused permission the first time around its chances of success later on are greatly diminished.
Some people chose to rely on their architects to manage the application process. If you are having difficulty with permission due to design issues, it’s certainly important to consult your architect. However, you should not assume that your architect will be able to navigate planning permission in complex cases.

If you’re a developer considering a site for potential building, you should contact a planning consultant to help you assess viability. This kind of assessment is known as a Feasibility Study. The consultant will decide on the potential for success with regards to planning policies both locally and nationally.

Here are some examples of the work consultants can help with:

  • Applications 
  • Appeals
  • Impact studies and feasibility studies 
  • Research
  • Urban and rural design.

Find a planning consultant

If you engage a planning consultant, you need to make sure they are a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. The RTPI is the only UK organisation that can give chartered status to planners.

RTPI membership is an internationally recognised hallmark of distinction, skill and expertise. Members are bound by a code of conduct, meaning they are obliged to act with integrity, diligence and professional judgement at all times. RTPI members have met the highest standards set by the planning profession.

To find a planning consultant, visit the RTPI Directory of Planning Consultants.