Written by Imogen Trupinic – Senior Planner at Thomas Consultants
What to look for when choosing a planner for your next land development project
Where a resource consent is required, planners need to essentially project manage the process from when the application material is drafted till when the resource consent decision is in your hands. But choosing the right planning consultant for your project can be confusing and overwhelming. Here are some points to keep in mind when choosing a planner for your project:
#1 – Interpersonal skills
This is an essential skill, as you need a planner who can confidently negotiate with Council, specialists and other consultants. What’s more, the planner will be working with you for an extended period of time in order to obtain your consent approval, so you want to look for someone who is easy to work with.
#2 – Experienced with the process
For large scale developments, an experienced planner who understands the process from start to finish (i.e. the processes that are required after resource consent is issued) and who can confidently liaise with multiple parties to get the consent across the line. Planners who work alongside engineers and surveyors in the same firm are more likely to understand the process from start to finish. A senior or principal level planner from a medium-sized or large firm is ideal to hire for large-scale developments as they are the most experienced. For small scale developments (e.g. a 2 or 3-lot subdivision) the experience of the planner is not important as the entire consent process is less complex, and you can be certain that junior and intermediate-level planners are receiving mentoring from their senior-level peers where required for your project.
#3 – Experience processing for local government
Planners that have experience processing for local government are more likely to understand the process at Council and will therefore be more efficient at liaising with the processing planner to confirm what information is required before the consent can be approved. What’s more, these planners will be more adept at providing all the required information upfront to Council for the consent application, making it less likely you will receive an extensive Section 92 letter (Council’s official request for further information).
#4 – Supportive of your development
Finally, you want a planner that is supportive of your development and not afraid to raise any potential issues before the consent application is lodged. That way, you have a heads up of any hoops that may need to be jumped through (e.g. redesigns, additional permits or specialists to be engaged) before receiving Council’s feedback on your proposal.
Our Planning team at Thomas Consultants comprises professional town planners with a range of experience levels who all work cohesively together to deliver the best outcomes for our clients. Every one of our team has experience working for or on behalf of Council, and the nature of our profession means we are required to work with the Engineering and Surveying teams at Council. We also provide a run down of all the potential risks to development and possible future consent requirements in our preliminary reviews of proposed developments, so you can be sure all surprises are kept to a minimum when you engage our planners to lead your resource consent process.
If you need to engage a consultant planner to assist you with obtaining resource consent for a proposal of any scale, contact us anytime.
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