A Guide To The Types Of Planing Application Agents - Granite Building Warranties

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Types Of Planing Application Agents

Planning application agents are an integral part of the planning application. They are there to guide you through the complex rules and regulation which may even vary from each borough and council authority. Getting it wrong in the beginning could and months, even years to the whole process.

So lets explore what type of planning agents there are and when you might need them along with the projected cost implications.



An architect is someone who has been professionally trained and licensed to plan, design, and oversee the construction of buildings. Their skills, background, and fees can differ quite a bit depending on the size and complexity of the project.


To become a licensed architect, the typical path involves:

  • Earning a 5-year bachelor’s degree in architecture. (BArch) degree accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) (https://www.architecture.com/)
  • Completing an internship under a licensed architect (A minimum of two years of supervised work experience under a registered architect.)
  • Passing the licensing exam. (You’ll need to pass the Part 3 qualification exam offered by RIBA. This assesses your architectural knowledge, design skills, and professional competence.)


Architects can specialise in residential homes, commercial buildings, or landscape architecture. Their experience can range from recent grads to veterans with decades under their belt.


Architect fees are commonly structured a few different ways:

  • Percentage of construction cost: This is standard practice, where the architect’s fee is calculated as a percentage of the total estimated construction cost, often 8-15%+ depending on complexity and the architect’s experience.
  • Hourly rate: Some architects bill by the hour, with rates varying based on experience and location.
  • Fixed fee: For smaller projects, architects may agree to a fixed cost for defined services.
Here’s a rough estimate of fees based on project size:
  • Small residential project (renovation/addition): £5,000 – £15,000+
  • Medium residential project (new single-family home): $15,000 – $30,000+
  • Large residential project (custom luxury home): $30,000+
  • Commercial project: Costs vary hugely depending on size and complexity

What Architects do:

  • Initial consultation to discuss vision, budget, needs
  • Site analysis to evaluate the property
  • Schematic designs with preliminary concepts/floor plans
  • Design development refining the plans
  • Construction documents with detailed drawings/specs
  • Bidding assistance and oversight during construction

When to hire an architect:

  • For complex projects requiring specialised design expertise
  • If you want a custom, unique design fitting your style
  • To ensure permitting and code compliance

Planning Consultants

Planning consultants are specialists who can guide you through the planning/zoning approval process based on their expertise with local regulations and procedures.


Degree in Planning, Urban Design or related field. Membership in the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). (https://www.rtpi.org.uk/).
Experience: Most have several years working on planning applications.
Cost: Roughly £2,000 – £6,500+ per project depending on complexity

When to hire Planning Consultant

You should consider hiring a planning consultant in several situations related to obtaining planning permission for development projects. Here’s a breakdown of key scenarios where their expertise can be beneficial:

Complex Projects:

  • Unfamiliar territory: If you’re unfamiliar with the planning process or local regulations, a consultant can guide you through the steps, paperwork, and potential challenges.
  • Large-scale development: For complex or large-scale projects, a consultant can navigate the complexities and increase your chances of approval.
  • Sensitive developments: Projects in historically significant areas, environmentally sensitive zones, or with potential for community objections might benefit from a consultant’s experience in dealing with such complexities.

Applications with a High Risk of Rejection:

  • Previous refusals: If a similar project on the site was previously rejected, a consultant can analyze the reasons and develop a more successful strategy for your application.
  • Non-standard proposals: Projects that deviate significantly from the local development plan or zoning regulations will need a strong case for approval, which a consultant can help build.


Surveyors provide expertise on property boundaries, constraints, and other site conditions.


Chartered membership with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) requiring a surveying degree.
Experience: Qualified surveyors understand building codes well.
Cost: Around £650 – £2,600+ depending on survey type

When to hire Surveyor

Building or renovating: A surveyor can be crucial for:

  • Site surveys: This establishes the property’s exact boundaries, topography (land elevation), and potential challenges for construction projects.
  • Setting out foundations: Ensures the foundation for your new building is laid in the correct location and at the proper level.

Land development: For any significant land development project, a surveyor is necessary for:

  • Land division: Dividing a larger piece of land into smaller plots requires accurate surveys to establish boundaries for each new parcel.
  • Topographical surveys: Understanding the land’s elevation and features is crucial for planning construction projects,drainage systems, and overall development.

Landscape Architect

For major landscaping, a landscaping architect creates designs meeting planning requirements.


Degree in landscape architecture and membership with the Landscape Institute (LI).(https://www.landscapeinstitute.org/about/).
Experience: Experienced in sustainable design and environmental regulations.
Cost: Around £1,300 – £3,000+ based on complexity

Environmental Consultants

Environmental consultants assess potential impacts and mitigation strategies.


Degree in environmental science/ecology plus relevant certifications.

Many will also have certifications or memberships in relevant organisations depending on their area of expertise. For example, someone specializing in waste management might be certified by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) (https://www.ciwm.co.uk/).
Experience: Look for consultants experienced with similar projects.
Cost: £1,000 – £10,000+ depending on assessment complexity

What they can do for your planning application:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): They can assess the potential impact of your project on factors like air quality, water resources, ecology, and noise pollution.
  • Pollution control strategies: They can advise on ways to mitigate any negative environmental impacts and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Sustainability reports: They can help develop reports that demonstrate your commitment to sustainable practices, which can be a positive factor in the planning decision.

When might you need an environmental consultant?

  • If your project involves development in a sensitive ecological area.
  • If your project has the potential to generate significant waste or air/water pollution.
  • If your local planning authority requires an EIA for your type of project.


Building Engineers

Building engineers don’t typically work directly on submitting planning applications themselves. Their expertise is more involved in the design and technical aspects of the building itself, once the planning permission is secured.


  • Building engineers typically hold a degree in Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or a related field. They might also be members of professional bodies like the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) (https://www.cibse.org/).
  • Cost: Their involvement wouldn’t be a separate cost for the planning application process. Their fees would likely be part of the overall project cost for design and construction, which can vary significantly depending on the project size and complexity.

Structural Engineers

Structural engineers specialise in a building’s structural integrity and safety.

Qualifications: Chartered Civil/Structural Engineering degree and registration with the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). (https://www.istructe.org/).
Experience: Look for direct structural engineering project experience.
Cost: Around £1,300 – £6,500+ depending on complexity

Notes On Cost Estimations

  • Costs can vary significantly based on location, project specifics, and the professional’s experience level
  • Get multiple quotes before deciding
  • Some firms offer combined services which can save money
  • Don’t hesitate to ask about qualifications and relevant experience

When to hire Structural ENGINEER

You should hire a structural engineer when your project deals with the building’s stability and structural integrity. Here are some common scenarios where their expertise is crucial:

  • New Builds: For any new construction project, a structural engineer is essential. They will:

    • Analyze loads and stresses on the building from weight, wind, and other factors.
    • Design the building’s structural framework, including foundations, beams, columns, and floors.
    • Specify the appropriate building materials for strength and durability.
    • Ensure the building complies with building codes and safety regulations.
  • Renovations and Extensions: If your renovation project involves changes that impact the building’s structure,you’ll need a structural engineer. This could include:

    • Removing load-bearing walls
    • Adding a new floor or roof
    • Modifying existing support structures
    • Adding features like balconies or large windows
  • Structural Repairs: If you suspect or discover structural damage to your property, consulting a structural engineer is essential. They can assess the damage, determine the cause, and recommend solutions for repair or reinforcement.Examples include:

    • Cracks in foundation or walls
    • Uneven floors or sagging ceilings
    • Signs of water damage that might affect structural stability




  • The above are estimated costs and can vary depending on your location, the project’s specifics, and the professional’s experience level.
  • It’s always best to get quotes from several professionals before deciding.
  • Some firms offer combined services (e.g., planning consultant and surveyor), which can be more cost-effective for smaller projects.

Remember, the qualifications and experience required can also vary depending on the project’s complexity and local regulations. Feel free to ask potential agents directly about their qualifications and experience.

For more information, please contact Ed or Kelly on 01284 365345 or email ed@granitebw.co.uk / kelly@granitebw.co.uk.


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