Services to your development team

Urban Counsel offers experience of the planning and development processes from diverse perspectives – national and local, public and private sector, public and private interest. Urban Counsel can inform, advise and support those engaged in these processes, whether developer, planner or project/business manager.

Developers and their advisers need certainty from the outset that the planning process will be swift and successful. Urban Counsel can improve the prospects for this with intelligence of the aspirations and expectations of other parties. This can guide the appointment of a project team with the best combination of expertise, experience and compatibility and help define a project brief that balances aspiration and achievability.

From the outset Urban Counsel can help you:

  • Define and articulate the nature of a development opportunity
  • Understand the context that will influence its form and implementation
  • Understand the culture of other interested parties
  • Accurately evaluate the influence of local planning policies and the NPPF
  • Select and brief the design team to work effectively from the outset, and first-time
  • Commision contextual analysis to present a credible, robust case for development

Our approach brings in-house the essential appreciation of how other parties may respond to your proposal. This allows you to explore innovative ideas, and challenge and review development potential in the formative stages of a development without exposure to external scrutiny that might undermine the credibility of the project. A constructive relationship with others is more likely if they can see their legitimate interests recognised and addressed by the project from the outset.

The adversarial nature of planning appeals hinders the exploration of common interests and can affect the whole planning consent process. This can hinder the exploration of common interests. Familiarity with each others’ legitimate interests can foster greater trust between players in the development process, allowing the potential for a more consensual approach.

The National Planning Policy Framework reduces, at a stroke, the volume of national policy to be considered.  Whether this will reduce the scope for argument over development remains to be seen. For the time being, Urban Counsel experience of how past changes in planning policy have been accommodated will help you establish a robust position.

Open and carefully articulated expression of development objectives, in the context of national and local policy, helps secure the constructive engagement of interested parties. If their understanding of the objectives is consistent with yours, whatever their perspective and culture, opposition can be minimised.

Urban Counsel understands the diverse cultures, interests, attitudes adn expectations of the groups and individuals that engage through the planning process. We can help your development team anticipate the legitimate expectations of others, and engage with them early and confidently.

A well-expressed appreciation of the physical, social and political context of a development proposal helps to secure the trust and confidence of the local planning authority and community. An application that reflects input from interested parties and demonstrates sensitivity and responsiveness to the development’s context will be treated more sympathetically

This is particularly important in relation to historic features, the setting of which will be an important component of the context of any new development, but should not be a barrier to development that is demonstrably appropriate. Urban Counsel will undertake an objective assessment of the heritage values of a place. This provides a baseline for all parties work from, informing what should be valued and why, how it should be cared for and by whom. With common understanding established, the scope for introducing new development without harming what is of greatest historic significance can be explored with greater confidence.

A site’s context is a combination of physical, cultural, temporal, social and political factors, and should inform the development brief from the outset. When understood, ‘context’ provides inspiration and stimulates opportunities for innovation in new development. It will inform the selection of the Architect and design team that will exploit best the distinctiveness of a site’s context. Urban Counsel provides independent help in selecting the team that will respond best to the brief.

Where a development proposal has run into difficulties in the planning process, Urban Counsel provides an independent assessment of the options available, and the tactics most likely to succeed given the circumstances and the personalities involved.

However constructive the development team’s approach, it will on occasions have to resort to appeal. With early engagement, Urban Counsel can help provide an objective case for development. Even at later stages in the planning process our approach can be used to test the robustness of the case for development before expensive commitments are made to pursue an appeal. Presentation of evidence is part of the service.