A planning consultant is an expert on the planning system with a similar level of knowledge and training as the planners who will process your application.
For most self builders, the services of a planning consultant aren't necessary and your designer should have plenty of experience in submitting applications and (hopefully!) receiving approvals.
There are however, numerous circumstances where you might want to enlist the services of a specialist, including:
A planning professional brings knowledge and expertise to the table. An intimate knowledge of policy, the guidelines and usually a relationship with the local planners and officials, can help to navigate the process.
Most planning consultants are members of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Members must hold a graduate or postgraduate qualification in an RTPI accredited course with the necessary planning content and undertake a period of professional experience.
Search the RTPI directory of members to find a consultant near you.
You can also find consultants or 'planning and development surveyors' who are members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Completion of graduate or postgraduate qualifications in a range of subjects relating to construction, property or law, as well as extensive professional experience are required for membership.
Search the RICS directory.
Membership to either of these bodies should ensure that the practice or individual is committed to constant professional development keeping them up to date with changes in policy and best practice.
Once again, personal recommendations, satisfied customers and successful applications are the best selection criteria.
If you are submitting your own application or want to find out more about the planning process, visit our page on submitting your planning application or have a look at Roy Speer and Mike Dade's book 'How to Get Planning Permission'.