PLANNING

Contrary to popular belief, the UK Planning system isn’t anything like as random and subjective as it might sometimes appear.

It is, however, entrenched in highly complex legal and procedural structures, further complicated at times by past judgements and case law.

Unfortunately, this means that the success or failure of a Planning application can often be much more about understanding current local and national Planning Policy than it is about the actual design or real impact of the proposal! Years at the sharp edge of residential development taught us this lesson hard, and when setting up Sensus one of our top aims was to gain access to the best Planning brains we could to support our architectural design skills.

Not only so we bring this expertise to bear on each and every design application we submit, but we can provide comprehensive Planning Consultancy services for every possible stage and aspect of the development process. From strategic promotion of likely land through the Local Plan, though Outline and Detail applications (including negotiation of Section 104 Agreements, Affordable Housing, CIL payments and proposed Conditions), to management of discharge of Conditions, Appeals or support on Judicial Review, Sensus can support you every step of the way.

Sensus offers a comprehensive range of Planning consultancy services. If you’ve got a Planning problem – or would just like somebody to deal with the bureaucracy as swiftly and efficiently as possible – let us know how we can help!

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STRATEGIC


Sensus has an in-depth understanding of the Development Plan process and can apply this to the strategic promotion of sites through the system to secure mixed-use, residential, urban regeneration or commercial development.

We understand how planning shapes places for life, work and play, and how these elements are integrated to support wider economic, social and environmental objectives. Our skilled Masterplanners can deliver design strategies to support our policy promotion, demonstrating development viability with clarity and confidence.

Our wealth of experience gives us practical knowledge of the levers to twist and the buttons to push, to influence local planning agendas and help shape local development documents in a way that supports our clients’ needs.

Sensus understands the plan making process and has a proven track record in engaging communities, interest groups and planning authorities in the preparation of planning documents.

APPLICATIONS


In the distant past, even an application for even a major residential development consisted of nothing more than the application forms and a set of drawings. Sadly, such times are long behind us, and the application process can now entail complex coordination of designs, reports and supporting material from a team of specialist consultants. But no matter how large or small your planning application, Sensus can take the strain and coordinate the process smoothly and efficiently on your behalf.

With our extensive experience in the handling of all types of planning applications, we guide and support you through every stage of the planning process from initial feasibility, through pre-application advice/discussions, preparation and submission of the application itself and detailed negotiation with planning authorities and other statutory consultees. Where appropriate, we also liaise with Council Members, key interest groups and the general public to ensure an application receives a smooth and efficient passage through the planning process. As part of this process we also negotiate Section 106 agreements and work to moderate and optimise the imposition of planning conditions on the final consent.

Sensus aims to engage with all stakeholders in the planning process, to ensure our clients receive a favourable recommendation and the value of their permission is maximised.

RURAL DEVELOPMENT


All of Sensus’ key personnel live and work in rural areas – though they’re as diverse as the rugged moorland of South Devon, the salt marsh and beaches of the West Norfolk coast, and the agricultural powerhouse of the Lincolnshire Fens.

We have considerable experience in enabling new development in the countryside. This involves the diversification of existing agricultural enterprises, equine related developments and exploring innovative and practical new uses for rural buildings.

Our expertise also includes schemes dealing with Prior Approval conversion of redundant agricultural buildings to dwellings, under Permitted Development rights, and working on Paragraph 55 exceptions for homes of exceptional innovation and architectural quality in open countryside.

We are also very experienced in the planning constraints related to agricultural & forestry workers’ dwellings, removal of Agricultural Occupancy ties, tourist accommodation in the countryside and replacement dwellings.

APPEALS & INQUIRIES


Appeals and inquiries can be amongst the most technically challenging of Planning processes. Sensus has the skills and technical expertise to guide our clients through the options and procedures. We will provide clear advice on the merits and chances of success of individual cases and the most appropriate way to pursue an appeal, whether by Written Representation, Hearing or Inquiry.

Where the case demands it, we are happy to advise and instruct Counsel where necessary. We also have a strength in our attention to detail – many an Appeal has been won or lost on the quality of supporting documentation, and we never neglect the unglamorous but essential role that this plays.

REPRESENTATION


Whether you wish to support or oppose a development, knowing what to say, to whom, and in the right way can make all the difference.
Planning law and procedure can appear arcane at times, and often it’s a seemingly trivial or less obvious point that can prove to be the fatal weakness.

Conversely, some issues that may at first appear to be clear and obvious problems are not considered to be ‘material’ under the legal rules by which Planers are obliged to consider applications, and so can be complete red herrings that will carry no weight with the final decision.

Sensus can work with you to draw out the ‘material’ (legally relevant) aspects associated with any application, and thereby help provide the most robust defence or opposition to the proposal.

Our extensive experience working on a range of planning policy issues means we can also support you to develop, change or challenge planning policy. This can include representation on local authority core strategies and development management documents, presentation of your case for a sites inclusion as a development land allocation.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANS


In 2015 the government, as part of its wider planning reform, took steps to give people more control over development in their local area which included giving communities the power to set priorities for local development though neighbourhood planning.

Neighbourhood planning is now one of the cornerstones of the new planning system, and is already becoming a key tool for those parishes and community groups wanting to shape the future of their town or village. Sensus understands that resources can be limited and offer expert and independent advice to Parish and Town Councils to help put a neighbourhood plan together that is right for your area, has the support of local people, and helps guide future planning decisions. Sensus can support you from start to finish in preparing your plan.

PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT


A surprising amount of development can be undertaken without seeking planning permission, but – as ever – the rules on what’s allowed can often be impenetrable and difficult to interpret when you’re not used to the language of the planning system.

Sensus can help you find a practical interpretation. We can help negotiate with Planning Authorities where the rules are being subjectively or unfairly applied, and we can apply for Lawful Development Certificates or Prior Approval where you need to formally establish the legitimacy of the work.

Where work has already been undertaken that should have required Planning Permission, we can also advise on the best means of regularisation – whether by a Lawful Development Certificate, or by a retrospective Planning Application.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES


Sensus also offer planning consultancy services to Local Authorities who may wish to procure the services of specialists, to undertake research or prepare supplementary guidance documents for Local Plan or Development Management purposes. We are also able to review and make recommendations on existing documents where the Council consider a fresh approach or more robust and up-to-date strategy and evidence base is required.

DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL


With the value of land varying from less-than-nothing to well over £1 million per acre, maximising the value and potential of your land is far from a trivial consideration.

Whilst ‘Planning uplift’ (the increase in value gained by obtaining planning permission) is undoubtedly a major factor, truly maximising development potential takes a multi-disciplinary approach, with technical and commercial viability being equally important.

Sensus has a unique blend of skills and knowledge, with our Planning team working in close cooperation with our design and technical specialists to ensure the most realistic and pragmatic solutions. But we also enjoy thinking laterally, and often find outside-the-box solutions for land that others have written off as having no development potential.

As part of this process, we assess the most appropriate mix and form of development, checking the feasibility of proposed uses against planning objectives and policy, as well as development constraints, to identify the development potential of a given site. We then reality-check the planning potential against technical costs and constraints, in parallel with assessing the gross development value of the finished development, to ensure the most appropriate way of releasing maximum value.

We can undertake this process on everything from an individual plot or extension/redevelopment of an existing dwelling, up to strategic mixed-use proposals on land holdings of many acres in size. Contact us to discuss how we can maximise the value of your property.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT


The path through Planning – particularly on major or controversial developments – is often smoothed considerably by engaging with community stakeholders as part of the strategic or pre-application process.

Sensus has the skills and experience to assist both applicants and local authorities in this demanding area, working with either our own architectural team or your own consultant team to present and discuss proposals with local communities.

We can’t always promise to deliver unreserved community support for a project, but we never fail to at least mitigate resistance!

Sensus Architecture Ltd.

Planning + Architecture + Design


Projects done on time

We know that time is money – especially true in the world of construction and development.
We won’t let you down, or keep you waiting.

Free Initial Consultation

We’ll be happy to discuss your project with you in more detail, free of charge at our offices, or for a nominal sum to cover our costs if you need us to come to you. Get in touch to find out how Sensus can best meet all your Planning, Architectural and Design requirements.

Professional and responsible

With over 70 years of experience between our Directors alone, Sensus has the expertise to support you through every step of the way, from concept to completion, with the ultimate in professionalism.