50 shades of grey: Why your town planner can’t guarantee an outcome

19 November 2018

Posted in: Town planning

In development certainty is a beautiful thing but unlikely given that its inherently a endeavour of calculated risk. Town planners can be particularly vague and in most cases this should not be confused with inexperience. Their depth of experience in many cases is why they approach advice and constraints the way they do.

By the time a project gets off the ground many influencing factors can change dramatically like legislation, planning schemes, the market, interest rates… the list goes on.

Many factors influence a development outcome that are beyond the control of the developer, property owner, and the project consultants, including the town planner.

Aside from the obvious issue of liability, you can’t guarantee a town planning outcome simply because there’s a lot of moving parts controlled by third parties.

Ultimately the decision to approve or reject a planning application rests with council and you can’t predict their decision. Quite often a good town planner’s skills are in persuading council that a development aligns with the outcomes sought. This takes skill and is not an exact science.

Aside from the unpredictable “human” factor of development assessment, other broader issues can be in play - like planning scheme amendments - that can influence the decision. A good town planner will do everything they can to anticipate and mitigate the expected issues, however controlling the decision is beyond their sphere of influence.

The other major wildcard is the constraints of a site, which may not be crystal clear until a more detailed review is undertaken. Preferably you would gather all the information of constraints during due diligence, but other issues can arise after you’ve purchased the property. Latent conditions on the site might see you want to change your existing development approval, which may or may not get council approval.

The value of a good town planner is in their ability to clearly explain the likely scenarios so their client has the best information available to make the best decision they can at that point in time.

Be wary of planners that promise specific development outcomes, they are likely not presenting all the information for your consideration. Even with many decades of experience dealing with a particular type of development in a particular region with a particular council you can never be 100 percent certain the decision will be the one you want. This is also due to provisions being subject to interpretations and the Council interpretation of things changes from time to time catching those unsuspecting applicants off guard.

Here at Consult Planning we pride ourselves on our no-nonsense approach to giving our clients advice. We want to help them succeed and in our minds the best way to do that is to provide frank and fearless advice.

Contact Consult Planning via office@consultplanning.com.au or call 1300 017 540 for your subdivision project to ensure that you have all the necessary advice to make your project a success.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, Consult Planning does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Requirements and standards frequently change so every individual proposal should be thoroughly investigated.

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