Carter Smith provides a one-stop shop for all aspects of planning, from small-scale householder extensions to complex planning applications and appeals. Here, Tony Carter tells us about his business and how, even though the nation is in lockdown, the planning process can still continue.
Tell us about Carter Smith Planning Consultants
As a former principal planning officer for Northumberland County Council, I worked on many major development projects over my 15 years in their employment. I decided to use my experience and knowledge to set up my own independent firm to help my clients with all aspects of town planning. We provide town planning support from conception to conclusion, taking our clients aspirations and shaping them into a workable solution that the planners will accept and support.
Who are your customers?
We work with landowners and developers, charitable organisations, government bodies, local authorities, parish councils, businesses, farms and private individuals. Basically, if anyone has a need for sound, impartial planning advice then we can help them.
What sort of work do you do?
We help with new domestic and commercial buildings, changes of use, lawful development certificates, planning appeals, and domestic projects such as new extensions, garages, outbuildings etc.
Has the “Lockdown” affected your business?
99% of planning is carried out via the internet and email, therefore as we have effectively ‘de-camped’ from the business premises into our home offices, we are still working for our existing clients as normal.
As ‘face to face’ meetings are not possible at present, we have set up various applications including Zoom, Facetime, and WhatsApp which allow virtual meetings to take place and these have proven to be very useful. We had a conference recently with six participants discussing one of our planning applications. The ‘lock-down’ rules still allow building work to carry on provided social distancing is adhered to, therefore clients with permission can still implement their schemes.
Is now a good time to submit planning documents?
Now is a great time to submit pre-application enquiries as it gives us a chance to work on any projects and get them to submission stage without the normal day to day interruptions an office brings.
It’s also a great time to submit ‘lawful development certificate’ applications as these don’t require a policy/planning judgement assessment as they are either compliant with the permitted development legislation or not or they meet the four or 10- year exemption rules or they dont.
What can people do to help the planners at this time?
A number of Councils are keen to receive a portfolio of photographs of the application/pre-application sites to support any planning applications. This assists them in determining applications without the need to carry out a site visit. I can offer advice on what to photograph and how to maximise your chances of making any application more successful.
What makes you different from other planning consultants?
I think my experience goes a long way to making us stand out from the crowd. Our client testimonials back this up and I am especially proud of our open, honest and transparent approach. If a proposal has no realistic chance of success, well say so as soon as possible preventing wasted expenditure and time for our clients.
What do you like to do out of work?
I love my fishing and when the lock down ends, Ill once again enjoy travelling around the UK and France in our caravan. When Im fishing I can switch off so to speak, and refresh/recharge my brain. Being away in the caravan allows us the freedom to visit so much more of our beautiful country and explore the delights of rural France. IF YOURE PLANNING A DEVELOPMENT PROJECT GET CARTER Carter Smith provides a one-stop shop for all aspects of planning, from small-scale householder extensions to complex planning applications and appeals. Here, Tony Carter tells us about his business and how, even though the nation is in lockdown, the planning process can still continue. www.cartersmithplanning.co.uk 100 How can people get in touch with you? In normal circumstances our office is at Hepscott House, Coopies Lane, Morpeth NE61 6JT but at the moment we are working from home. Our email is email@example.com or I can be contacted on 07718 967722.