14 - 12 - 2021

Featuring BPTW Planning Partner, Gerry Cassidy, for The Housing Forum.

The Housing Forum’s October 2021 conference, Fit for the Future, aimed to harness key opportunities across the housing sector by focusing on pertinent topics including supply and delivery, partnerships, quality standards, asset management, and decarbonisation solutions. BPTW’s Planning Partner, Gerry Cassidy, hosted a breakout event titled ‘Taking the Risk out of Planning’ alongside Hill’s Senior Development Manager, Daniel Palman.

The hybrid event facilitated discussions concerning the mitigation of planning risk from both planning and development perspectives, leading to better project outcomes for all involved in the planning process. A video of the session is available to watch below.

The detailed conversation addressed a variety of planning risks and pertinent issues facing the industry today, including Permitted Development Rights, planning viability, changes to planning use classes, and biodiversity and net gain. Presented below, Gerry discussed how planning risk can be assessed at different project stages and offered insights into the key actions that can help reduce this risk.

Assessing levels of risk

There are three overarching stages in a project’s development that each bring differing risks and concerns:

  • The pre-application stage which can be as early as pre-acquisition and strategic land promotion.
  • The planning preparation to determination stage.
  • The build out to completion stage, including discharge of planning conditions.

Each of these stages can be impacted by a multitude of additional risks from policy to market conditions, political risk, and even the complexity of the application itself and the client’s appetite for risk. All these factors must be considered to have a comprehensive understanding of planning risk at each stage, rending the simple binary question of whether the project will get planning permissions or not redundant.

BPTW Planning Partner, Gerry Cassidy (far right), presenting at the Housing Forum’s break out session.

Top tips for minimising planning risk

In the discussion, Gerry  identified five key actions that clients and design teams can use when seeking to reduce planning risk on any project:

  • Build relationships with the local planning authority and key stakeholders.
  • Do not look for concessions from officers. Instead, look for candid advice.
  • Address difficult issues head on from the start. Ask those difficult questions to help the project progress and anticipate project risks even if planning officers have not identified them specifically.
  • Secure elected member signoff through considered consultation methods.
  • Do your homework. Attend planning committees to help identify the local authority’s key objectives and enable a focused risk mitigation process during project development.
BPTW’s planning team led by partner, Gerry Cassidy.

BPTW is an active participant of The Housing Forum and its Partners and Directors have contributed to many talks and events to raise the quality of housing in England. You can read more about their contributions to The Housing Forum, such as BPTW’s work for The Housing Forum’s Councils Network, on our Insights page.

Gerry Cassidy is the Planning Consultancy Partner at BPTW. With experience spanning over 30 years in public and private planning, Gerry sits on the RIBA’s planning advisory group and is a frequent contributor to planning industry thought leadership groups.