First, though, what does a town planner do?

A town planner is involved in land use planning and the regulatory control of land and property through government planning instruments – mainly at local and state government levels and, to an extent, at federal government level.

Fundamentally, there are two types of town planners:  1. Government town planners who devise and administer planning legislation and 2. Private consulting town planners who work on behalf of proponents to prepare, lodge and manage development applications to the government who assess the applications against their planning legislation.

A private consulting town planner can have a range of clients including individual investors, property development funds, government agencies and private and publicly listed developers.

A good private consulting town planner is versatile and can work on all scales and types of development including non-conforming dwelling houses and boundary realignments, small infill development such as splitter blocks, secondary dwellings, dual occupancy, duplexes, townhouses and apartments to larger master-planned communities, high-rise mixed-use developments and other complex projects.

A town planner has the professional skills to understand and interrogate complex legislation, find solutions to difficult property-related challenges, to negotiate and advocate for good outcomes as well as project manage the development approval process.

So, Why Would You Engage a Town Planner?

1. To Make Informed Decisions When Transacting on Property

Whether you own property, looking to purchase or sell you need to know what the property is worth so you can make informed decisions.  You may be unknowingly sitting on a goldmine, or you’re about to buy a lemon. How the government planning land use controls affect the development potential of a property is a major consideration in its value.  You also need to be aware of the risks and costs associated with seeking development approvals.

A town planner is best placed to advise you on the development potential of property and can provide you with a brief appraisal or full due diligence advice as you require.

Some of the items a town planner will review when providing advice on the development potential of land and property are:

  • Planning scheme zone, precinct and overlays
  • State matters including state agency interests and regional planning
  • Potential or recent changes to the land-use control that could adversely affect the development yield of property – biodiversity overlays, state koala mapping to name a few
  • Encumbrances including easements that can decrease yield and/or restrict development applications from being lodged
  • Infrastructure including infrastructure charges, the capacity and location of infrastructure to service future development and planned or future infrastructure requiring land and infrastructure to be credited/offset as part of development through infrastructure agreements

Before you make any decisions about land or property, involve a town planner – a small outlay at the outset may save you a lot of expense and pain in the long run.

2. Strategise for the Success of Your Project

The development application process is one aspect of the overall development process, and you need a town planner to navigate and negotiate your project through the legislative application process.

A good town planner will also add much more value to your development and will tailor a strategy to best meet your development goals around, for example:

  • Finding the most suitable site for your development
  • Assembling and coordinating the right consultants for your project team – a good town planner is well connected within the industry and will use their contacts to solve property issues.
  • Master planning and designing your project
  • Finding solutions for complex property problems – not all sites and projects are straightforward, and a good town planner understands how to manage interrelated issues and find the sweet spot that suits the client and government agencies.
  • Advocating your project and stakeholder engagement
  • Guiding you through the post-approval process through conditions compliance and related approvals and where new titles are involved, de-risked plan sealing

Having a town planner involved upfront before you start your development project is a wise investment in the success of your project.

3. Timely, Expeditious Results

The first question all town planners should ask their clients is “when do you need your approval by?”

A delayed approval can mean increased holding costs, missed contractual deadlines and delayed settlements.

The development application process involves many steps with some of these lapsing an application if not carried out properly or within certain timeframes.  To save you time in the end, it is essential you have a town planner involved from the beginning to navigate you through the process in the most timely, no fuss manner.

4. Assemble and Coordinate your Project Team

One of the values of a good town planner is their ability to assemble and coordinate the entire project team on your behalf.

A development application will typically require specialist input from other consultants to properly address the planning requirements.  Depending on the scale or nature of your project it may require input from a surveyor, urban designer, traffic engineer, civil engineer, ecologist, architect, building designer, ecologist, air or acoustic engineer, heritage, landscape architect, economist, legal, etc.

A town planner works with a range of different consultants daily and will have a network of reliable consultants suitable for different project types and clients ready to refer to you as you require.

Start your project enquiry with a town planner, and they will let you know who else you need on your project team.

Key Take-home

If you’re developing or transacting on land and property, engaging a town planner as early as possible is a good investment and a wise move for the success of your project or investment goals.


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