30 Sep 6 top tips for Property Developers when working with Town Planners.
Town Planners are an important part of the property developer’s world. You may know of them as a Town Planner, Urban Planner, Regional Planner, Statutory Planner, Land Planner or Strategic Planner. They all mean roughly the same thing and all work within the realms of property development, planning and assessment.
Town Planners work to broach the divide between political and technical strategic planning, while facilitating the working together of all parties involved in achieving the goal of getting the development out of the ground and sold.
Planners think both creatively and logically; and work to interpret the law, and councils built environment and development requirements. They work on everything from a mum and dad small granny flat submission, through to multi-billion dollar, years long Cross River Rail projects with Government.
Working with a town planner will see you working with someone who understands parameters, and how to skirt the edges of them where needed. They are a valuable resource for every property developer and should be included on the team from the get-go.
What can a Town Planner assist with?
Where development planning is required, a planner can assist with:
- identifying and evaluating suitable sites
- strategic planning in line with statutory requirements
- yield assessment
- application management
- stakeholder engagement
- community consultation
- town planning scheme amendments and due diligence assessment
- feasibility and reporting
- project management of contractors
- preparation of DA
- providing advice
- coordinating consultants – from architects to surveyors to landscapers
- act as experts through mediation or court action and, finally,
- general jumping through hoops!
We find that many of our developer clients tend to stick with the same team across all their projects. While this is effective where the developer completes projects roughly in the same geographic locations, it is worth investing in a local team when developing elsewhere. Local planners and property professionals know their local council team, understand the constraints within their local planning scheme and have local contacts who can round out the team – for example QS’s, building contractor’s and engineering service providers.
Town Planners prove their worth when it comes time to dealing with community objections, unwavering councils and issues with design, this expertise alleviates cost and time delays, and helps get the project underway sooner.
Top Tips for working with a Town Planner
Tip 1. Work with a Town Planner who is local to the area your development is in
Tip 2. Talk to Council and find out who they like working with and what their experiences have been with your proposed Planner – who you’ve picked might be a gigantic pain to them and as such each of their applications is treated with extreme prejudice (whether recognized or not!) You want a planner with a stellar reputation amongst council as a good and reasonable operator.
Tip 3. Remember your Planner is working with you. Your goals are aligned. Be open and honest about what you want to achieve and how you’d like to get there. Let them help you.
Tip 4. Listen. If your planner is telling you Council is going to want to see one landscaped tree bay for every 21 parking spaces and 5 applications have been knocked back because they haven’t met that requirement, you aren’t going to get your one landscaped tree bay for every 22 parking spaces through. Such is the planner’s domain, let them do their job. Listen to what they are advising you on.
Tip 5. When your planner tells you they have a great recommendation for an Architect, or engineer, or traffic management provider, take it on board but make your own decision about who to go with. Ask lots of questions, talk to other clients, review previous works. This is your ship, welcome advice but make your own informed decisions on the crew.
Tip 6. Ask questions before you engage a planner:
- Do they have local experience working with the council your development falls under?
- Do they have experience in having similar developments approved?
- What has their experience with council been?
- Do they know some great local service providers?
- Do they see any immediate issues with the proposed application?
- Can they provide details of previous projects?
- How big is their team?
- Do they have capacity to take you on as a client?
Wrap it up
Take the time to get to know your planner and how they operate. You can research and find a planner through the Planning Institute of Australia. We also have a massive network of property professionals at our disposal, if you’d like an introduction to someone – just ask!
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