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What is a Town Planner?

In Australia, developing and managing towns and cities are vital for fostering sustainable communities that thrive both socially and economically. Behind the scenes, town planners play a crucial role in shaping the built environment, ensuring efficient land use, and promoting the well-being of residents.

Due to the complexity and demands on land use, there are various types of town planners – all consisting of different roles and responsibilities such as strategic town planners, transport town planners, social planners and rural and regional planners. Therefore, it is important to know what a town planning consultant does, as they play a vital role when it comes to making decisions for proposed land uses and developments.

What do town planners do?

Town planning experts (also known as urban planning consultants) are professionals who are at the heart of managing the process of development across our suburbs, towns and rural spaces.

In order to ensure the land and developments around us function properly as social, economic and environmentally friendly spaces, a planner guides development through many aspects such as contributions towards policy writing and policy assessments.

Types Of Town Planners

The most common type of town planning consultant in Melbourne you will liaise with is a statutory town planner. Statutory town planners assess land use and development proposals against local and state policies associated with planning permit applications, while working alongside other professionals in the field. Statutory town planners can work as city planning consultants in the private sector or for local governments in the public sector. Both adhere to the provisions of the Planning and Environment Act of 1987.

Meanwhile, private town planning consultants will assist you from the beginning of your project, providing advice, liaising with other consultants, assessing your application against the relevant state and local policies and preparing your planning permit application for Council lodgement.

A town planning consultant can also serve as a liaison between clients and local government town planners by managing sub-consultants such as arborists, traffic engineers, architects/designers, and land development consultants and relaying information back to them. They work with all parties involved to ensure that your proposal has the best chance of success.

There are also Council statutory town planners who review land use and development applications to ensure they comply with State and Local policies. They also cooperate with internal departments within Council and external authorities to ensure that the proposal meets relevant standards and requirements, whilst also assessing the views of objectors in order to prepare a decision for a planning permit application.

Responsibilities Of A Town Planner

Town planners are professionals who play a crucial role in shaping the development and management of towns and cities. Understanding these responsibilities sheds light on the significant impact that town planners have on creating liveable and thriving urban areas.

Urban Development Planning:

Town planning consultants develop strategies and policies for urban growth and development. They analyse existing infrastructure, assess environmental impact, and plan for future land use, ensuring that development aligns with sustainability principles and the community’s needs.

Zoning and Land Use Management:

Town planning consultants play a crucial role in zoning regulations, determining how land can be used and what types of development are permissible in different areas. They consider factors such as residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational needs, while aiming to balance the interests of various stakeholders.

Environmental and Heritage Conservation:

Town planning companies promote environmental sustainability by integrating green spaces, protecting natural resources, and mitigating the impact of development on the environment. Town planners also identify and preserve historical sites, contributing to the cultural heritage of towns and cities.

Community Engagement:

Engaging with the community is a significant aspect of a town planning consultants’ role. Town planners consult with residents, community groups, and businesses to gather feedback, address concerns, and incorporate public input into planning decisions. This participatory approach helps ensure that development reflects the aspirations and values of the community.

Infrastructure Planning:

Town planner consultants assess the need for infrastructure such as transportation systems, utilities, and public facilities. By considering factors such as population growth, traffic patterns, and access to services, they can plan for the efficient provision of essential amenities.

Why And When Do You Need A Town Planning Consultant?

Complex Planning Processes

One of the main reasons you might need a town planner is if you run into complicated planning processes. Navigating various regulations, zoning requirements, and policies imposed by local government authorities is part of town planning. A town planning consultant has the expertise and knowledge to guide you through these complexities, ensuring that all relevant regulations and requirements are met.

Maximising Development Potential

When you have a specific development project in mind, a town planning consultant can help you maximise its potential. They have a deep understanding of land use patterns, market dynamics, and urban design principles. By working closely with town planning companies, you can identify the optimal use of your land, explore design options, and create a development plan that aligns with your goals while coexisting with the surrounding environment.

Zoning And Land Use

Zoning regulations dictate how you can use land within specific areas. A town planning consultant can be invaluable if you need clarification about the zoning requirements or assistance with rezoning applications. They can analyse the existing zoning regulations, assess the feasibility of your desired land use, and guide you through the process of obtaining the necessary approvals and permits.

Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Engaging with the community and stakeholders is crucial when planning any development project. A town planning consultant can facilitate effective communication between you and the community, ensuring that their concerns and aspirations are heard and addressed. Consultants can also organise community meetings, workshops, and consultations to gather feedback, build consensus, and enhance the social acceptability of your project.

Environmental Considerations

In today’s world, sustainable development and environmental conservation are paramount. A town planner consultant can help you navigate ecological considerations and integrate sustainable practices into your development plans. Town planning consultants can assess the impact of your project on the natural environment, propose measures for resource conservation, and identify opportunities for green spaces and energy-efficient design.

Planning Policy and Compliance

Planning policies and regulations constantly evolve, and keeping up with current requirements can be difficult. Town planning consultants stay up-to-date with changing planning policies. They can ensure that your project remains compliant by providing expert advice on your development’s legal and regulatory aspects and reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential delays.

Infrastructure Planning and Integration

Developing a comprehensive infrastructure plan is vital for the success of any project. A town planning consultant can assess infrastructure needs such as transportation networks, utilities, and public amenities. They work with engineers, architects, and other professionals to ensure your project integrates seamlessly with existing infrastructure and promotes efficient land use.

Benefits Of Utilising Town Planning Consultants

The ultimate goal of a town planning consultant is to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome for your planning application. Their expertise and support throughout the process contribute to a smoother and more successful result.

Pre-Application Advice

Whether you are a seasoned property developer or this is your first project, it is critical that you consult with a town planning consultant during the pre-application stage of your project. If you intend to change the use of a site or construct a development, asking advice from a town planner early on about your proposal concerning current controls will help you determine if your project is feasible. Town planning consultants in Melbourne have the necessary background knowledge and understanding of local government requirements to advise you on the changes before an application is submitted to the Council.

Assistance With Town Planning Reports

Town planning consultants can meet with your designer to review your application and subsequently prepare a comprehensive town planning report. This report will assess your proposal in accordance with Local and State policies. Throughout this process, the town planning consultant will act as the central point of contact, ensuring that all sub-consultant reports, plans, architectural drawings, and the town planning report align seamlessly.

By collaborating with an experienced town planner consultant, you can ensure that your application provides the council’s town planner with sufficient information to make an informed decision. The town planning report, along with other vital documentation, will then be lodged with the council, advancing the progress of your application.

Council Liaising And On-Going Services

Once your application has been submitted, a town planning consultant will mediate between the relevant parties and the Council. Their primary responsibility is to relay information to the client, architect, and other project stakeholders, ensuring everyone remains updated throughout the process.

If the Council planner requires additional information regarding the planning permit application, the consultant will prepare a written response on behalf of the applicant, addressing the request for further details. Engaging the services of a town planning consultant during the Council process offers notable benefits, as they can thoroughly review the items requested by the Council and their initial concerns. They will then effectively communicate and translate these matters to the client, architect, and sub-consultants in a language everyone understands.

Additionally, your town planning consultant will compile all the necessary information into a consolidated document and prepare a response to the Council planner, addressing the requested further information.

During this stage, the planning consultant also plays a crucial role in assisting you throughout the public notice stage. They will diligently review and respond to any objections raised, as well as address any other concerns put forth by the Council planner.

Support For Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal

Due to certain circumstances, such as a planning permit refusal, amendments to planning permit conditions or objections lodged to review your planning permit decision, you may be required to attend the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal to review your application by a third party. At this stage, it is essential to engage a town planning consultant early on to assist you with appealing to the Tribunal.

A town planning consultant can help you by reviewing your application and providing feedback on potential issues or concerns that may be raised at the Tribunal. They will also be able to collect all documents for lodgement and continue liaising between yourself, the designer and Council to serve and distribute certain documents under VCAT orders. Furthermore, they can prepare a submission on your behalf and represent your case to the Tribunal.

How Terrain Consulting Group Can Help With Your Application

Terrain Consulting Group is dedicated to providing clients with comprehensive assistance and expertise throughout the planning application process. For almost 20 years, we have provided efficient and experienced services to our clients, ensuring that we provide you the best result possible with our transparent approach.

By partnering with Terrain Consulting Group, you can benefit from our extensive services, personalised attention, and commitment to achieving your planning goals. We will be with you every step of the way, providing professional advice and support to ensure a successful application process. Learn more about our services by getting in touch today.