Meet the partner: Nick Stanton from Curtin&Co
Wed 28th September 2016, 11:43 am
Consultancy Curtin&Co is the latest organisation to sponsor Sitematch. Chief operating officer Nick Stanton introduces himself and his company in an exclusive interview.
Can you tell us about Curtin&Co and the work the company does?
Curtin&Co is an expert communications consultancy agency specialising in the politics of planning. Through our highly skilled consultants, we help our clients understand the politics around planning applications within local authorities and provide a tailor-made strategy for all projects. This strategy seeks to ensure that planning applications have the best possible chance of success. We ensure the application is presented in the best possible local political light and harness third party supporters through innovative communication techniques.
As a sponsor, what is Curtin&Co looking to get out of the event?
We would like to help build a relationship between developers and local authorities to encourage communication and consultation around the planning process. The best planning applications are those which have had input from local residents, councillors and officers, and Curtin&Co seeks to encourage these conversations. As a sponsor, we would like to further develop our relationships with local authorities and developers to apply to the engagement process regarding planning applications across London.
When preparing a planning application, what is the most important thing a developer should (or shouldn’t) do to raise community support for a project?
Information is key. By keeping residents informed of the progress of the planning application and inviting them to comment throughout the application process, relationships can be built between the developer and the local community. In doing this, a developer must be willing to tangibly alter their proposals. Community support cannot be achieved without demonstrating this willingness, and importantly this doesn’t usually have to be major and will not impact the scheme’s viability.
The planning process is often criticised for being too slow. What are your thoughts on how a developer can ensure their application will be processed as quick as possible?
Although the planning process can sometimes prove slow, developers should work with both officers and committee members to understand what the council is looking for in a planning application and to ensure it reflects their aspirations. Should a proposal be flexible and accommodate the changes a council is looking for, then the application process usually speeds up with the council recognising the efforts made by the applicant. Planning performance agreements (PPAs) often prove useful in this regard, but committee members must be involved.
And what can local authorities do to ensure the planning process is as smooth as possible for applicants?
Especially when a PPA is in place, authorities must deliver on the deadlines they set, or follow deadlines set by legislation. Research has proven that developers will gladly pay an increased amount to councils to process an application if it results in a better level of service. With this established, local authorities have to ensure that they harness this opportunity. Of course, ensuring that officers’ views remain coordinated with those of planning committee members is part and parcel of this.