SPOTLIGHT ON SPECIALISMS
Planning support services.
By Richard Carter
Imagine that a team of six people have been appointed to solve a Rubik’s Cube, but each person is responsible for a single side. One person has to solve the red side, another person has to solve the blue etc. If somebody lines up all of the colours for their side, they’re going to be upset when someone jumbles them up in order to solve a different side.
It would be much better if a single person – who knows how to solve the whole puzzle – be given the Rubik’s Cube.
Currently, when it comes to the initial planning process, most projects opt for the six-person approach. But we have the capability to offer a holistic view on planning services, especially since we know what’s involved when it comes to detailed design, after the scheme has been approved.
Planning vs detailed design.
Before we can get our hands on a building to design it in detail, developers have to get planning permission. This involves consultants doing numerous surveys and assessments, with the aim of proving that the benefits of the development outweigh any negatives. If they don’t then suggestions are made to mitigate the effects.
Consultants in these planning teams have historically worked in silos – focusing on a single discipline (e.g. noise/acoustics). They’ll suggest ways of ensuring their side of things is up to standard, but their suggestions may alter the development in such a way that adversely affects someone else’s discipline.
This is where we can make a difference. As a firm that does detailed design for a broad range of specialist services, we know how best to coordinate disciplines so that the best compromise is achieved across all factors. For example, we know that if a building is rotated to mitigate an issue with acoustics, it will have an effect on daylighting, and the new position of the windows will affect the air quality.
We recognise that it’s vital for a development to evolve in a way that benefits as many people as possible, particularly the those who will bring life to it: the occupiers and residents. By balancing the impact of multiple – otherwise isolated – technical disciplines, we can create holistic solutions that benefit the project overall.
The success of spaces and places is defined by the wellbeing of people who use them. It’s therefore crucial that public-realm environments are designed to let people thrive. We understand the environmental factors at play, and can be instrumental in promoting the placemaking aspect of any project. By getting the right buildings in the right places at the start of the project, life becomes much easier when it comes down to the detailed design.
The planning services support team.
Many of us will be used to coordinating with a range of different disciplines during the detailed design, occasionally providing input at the planning stage.
Our planning support services team stands out because they are perfectly placed to get involved at the planning stage. They have an in-depth knowledge of the UK planning system and can interpret the specific requirements and planning jargon, which often makes little sense.
From a technical point of view, our planning services involve:
- air quality
- utilities and energy infrastructure
- operational waste
- CGI production
We offer expertise on:
- project conception
- site selection site-wide strategy
- building layout
- impact assessment and mitigation measures
- planning submission materials, including environmental impact assessment (EIA), negotiations with planning authorities or at appeal
- compliance monitoring (both during construction and operation)
Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).
We’ve recently welcomed a new addition to the team. Mark Cope brings with him a huge amount of experience around environmental consenting of major infrastructure development projects. He specialises in coordination of complex EIA development projects and is able to assist with a range of environmental consenting applications.
EIAs can be particularly complex, as they require a balancing act between the need for development and the impact on the environment, as well as an understanding of legislation and standards.
An EIA must consider what impact a development will have on population and human health; biodiversity; land, soil, water, air and climate; and material assets, cultural heritage and landscape… all of which is a lot to take into account.
While we are already able to offer some aspects of EIAs relating to human wellbeing, the arrival of Mark means we can now provide clients with a more coordinated package of services. So if you need someone to get involved with planning submissions, marine licencing, environmental permitting, listed buildings, and protected species/habitats, Mark is here to help.