We are, genuinely, one of the most brutally honest consultancies you will ever find. This means, therefore, that we aren’t afraid of telling you what you don’t want to hear because we are here to give you the best and most advice possible based upon our extensive experience. You need to trust people giving you advice. That is, ultimately why you go to any company for assistance, right?
Some professionals may not agree such a straight approach but for us, we always promise to give clients a complete, and honest, explanation. We can tell you what is good, bad and ugly, what made may be borderline or outline alternative options – we work how we would want to be worked with. This approach to projects gives you sufficient information to allow you to make decisions based upon your approach to risk or desire to work within the objectives which are possible.
We regularly undertake development appraisals (DEVELOPMENT APPRAISALS – KICK START YOUR PROJECTS FOR 2023! – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy) which are undertaken for a variety of people, for a variety of purposes. They do all have one thing in common – someone wishing to do something with, or construct something on, a site and it is our job to take their objectives and consider them against local planning policy and relevant material considerations and give them an idea of what would be acceptable. Sometimes people already own the sites in question, however, some people haven’t bought the sites and what they can do with the site is entirely dependent on whether they would buy it or indeed how much they would be willing to pay for it.
In such cases, it is therefore important that we are not afraid to tell you how it is. We sadly see too many cases where prospective clients approach us having already taken poor advice and having spent thousands (and thousands) of pounds upon applications (and unneeded surveys to go with them) which evidently had no hope in principle from the very start. We would consider that not informing a client of such obvious problems or risks is entirely unethical.
To give you a couple of examples, we once went to a site where a lady had paid someone to prepare and submit a planning application for stationing of a log cabin upon her land with her horses (no business use). The log cabin was to be for residential use, and it stood outside of a settlement boundary, in the open countryside, as well as being within designated Green Belt. All the planning policy cards were stacked against that site, the application and the lady’s circumstances. There is no way, at all, that the proposal would be acceptable in principle, and the woman had spent several thousand pounds preparing and submitting the application with an agent who had told her that there was potentially a chance with a “try it and see” approach.
We have also seen people spend thousands on applications for residential barn conversions, via prior notification under Class Q, where the building does not even qualify with the basic requirements of the legislation in question. The application buildings are typically in equestrian or non-agricultural use when the legislation is clear that the building has to be a qualifying agricultural building in use as part of an agricultural holding. Such basics show an application that should never have gone in and could never have succeeded. People have taken bad advice and paid in terms of physical money, time and emotion during the process.
The above are very clear-cut examples of where applications should never have been submitted and clients should not have been charged for what was essentially a guaranteed refusal. Taking an honest approach, discouraging applications and instructions of this nature, helps us avoid unnecessary heartbreak and expenditure. In some cases, with pre-purchase appraisals, we have flushed out sites with a clear red light on the traffic light rating which is a hard no and saved people hundreds of thousands of pounds as they have not gone on to purchase sites for which there were no options whatsoever.
A few weeks ago, at an event, one of our clients smiled at a comment we made and said (with a bit of a grin!): “finally, something we can agree on”. Speaking to this client later on during the event, we reminded him (nicely!) that we are not here to tell him what he wants to hear, but rather we are here to give him the best advice possible to enable him to make the right decisions in working towards his objectives. The client in question smiled and said that he knew this and agreed that we had done a great job so far. It is this sort of approach that builds trust and long-term relationships with a number of our clients; relationships that we are proud of.
So, what’s our point? If you approach us with a proposal, or any type of work as a consultancy, if we aren’t the right people to help you, we will say and we will try to direct you to the right person. If we are the right people to help, but you genuinely have no options, we will say and will not simply submit an application for the sake of it when there are strong, and obvious, objections in principle which would prevent it being a successful outcome.
That is not to say, of course, that refusals do not happen – they can, and they do. Generally, we are able to highlight potential problems, outline how they can be overcome and ultimately give a client enough information to ascertain the level of risk they are prepared to take in proceeding with anything which may be an issue. Such issues could borderline or, with matters such as design or heritage impact, subject to a subjective assessment.
So, if you wish to work with us, not only are we regulated by several regulatory bodies (with both Codes of Conduct and Ethical Standards that we have to work inside) we, as normal humans, are dedicated to providing the best service to our clients. We have well-established relationships with all the people you may need from architects to highways consultants, structural surveyors to ecologists and everyone in between which means you still only have to deal with one point of contact and we can provide you with a multi-disciplinary approach with clear costings and requirements.
If you want to get in touch, please do go to the contact page and see how we can help – we can’t see wait to see what you have planned!