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Mandatory Use of Architects for Planning Applications

Comment 15th March 2013

The UK Planning System is unusual in relation to other European Countries in not requiring the involvement of an architect at any stage of the planning process.

Although planning policy is well-endowed with requirements to maintain visual amenity etc. – there is no mandatory requirement to use a trained professional to achieve these requirements.

If it is a requirement to use a doctor if you have an operation in hospital for example – it seems strange for there to be no requirement to use an Architect for any type of planning application.

Across Europe, an Architect is required to sign-off the plans before submission, and often the Local Authority will use an Architect to review the plans. In some countries, a second review is undertaken by the Local Chamber of Architects, particularly if the site is in an historic area or is a large, complex application.

The UK is blighted with many sub-standard buildings which received no input from any architect.

But the issue is not just aesthetic – an architect can help ensure that low-energy and sustainable standards are being adhered to or even exceeded.

An architect can help ensure that the quality of living and working spaces is maximised to the benefit of the occupants.

An Architect can often see the potential to realise commercial value to a client which may not be apparent to un-trained persons.

Only an architect has this wide range of skills.

Idea: Mandatory use of an Architect for all planning applications above a sensible size-threshold (for example – 75m2 upwards + all applications in historic areas or to listed buildings). Proposed use of Architects to reinforce planning teams in local authorities and to assist in the decision making process.

Why does this matter?

My idea is important for several wide ranging reasons:

1. Architects could help to save the planning system time and money by ensuring that applications are properly constituted and follow planning guidelines from day-one of the application.

2. Architects represent a profession established to help ensure that the building stock quality and environmental quality is improved on both aesthetic but also energy, historic, Quality of Life and sustainability grounds. Currently, they are not involved in many applications, some of which are for major works.

3. Architects can save the Client money by maximising value, identifying opportunities that may not be visible to non-specialists and guiding the application through the planning process.

4. This proposal does not require large-scale reform of the planning system at great cost to the taxpayer – it simply makes use of the existing system in a more intelligent and beneficial way for all.

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