Lee Hannigan is a planner in Knox & Clayton Architects in Lisburn. Originally from Donegal he completed a Masters in Urban and Regional planning at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and shortly afterwards joined Knox and Clayton where he has worked for three years.
I arrive at work at 8.45am and the first thing I do is check my emails. Clients could be looking for updates on their jobs or I might have messages from the Planning Service or Road Service updating me on applications that I've been enquiring about.
My role within the company is to go out to sites and to investigate the development potential in urban and rural areas. New clients get in touch with me by phoning or calling into our office in Lisburn for a consultation. I then organise a site meeting so I can determine what they can get approval for on their land. Currently I am visiting a lot of rural sites with possible development potential. This is due to draft PPS21, which deals with rural planning policy outside of the development limit, opening up a number of opportunities for farmers and landowners which didn't exist under the previous policy. This week I have looked at the development potential of a second dwelling on a farm in Ballynahinch, a possible replacement dwelling outside Hillsborough and the possibility of an infill site outside Lisburn. The final draft of PPS21 is due to be published shortly which will finalise current rural planning policies.
I also look at the local area plan and determine what type of zoning the land is in. I look at the scale of the buildings, density of use in surrounding areas and read through the planning history of the site.
I record my findings and then go on site and meet the clients. Generally they don't know a great deal about the planning process or issues that can affect a planning decision so I am there to give them guidance.
Then another meeting will be arranged with me, an architect and the client to discuss design ideas and, once the client gives us the go ahead, the plans will be submitted to the Planning Service. For residential development I write up a design concept statement, which is a requirement of planning policy. This includes a site analysis and an in depth description of how the design concept satisfies the relevant planning policy. It is detailed and includes all my recorded findings. Normally this takes me three to four days to complete.
Due to the nature of planning and the variety of issues affecting a decision the planning process changes for every application. When the application has been received by Planning Service, my job does not end. I continue to ring them every two weeks for an update. I speak with the Case Officer to discuss the progress of the application and update the client too. The process can take 6-8 months. When approval is granted I immediately inform the client and if they give the go ahead the architects and technicians in the firm will proceed with the project through the building control process. I am out on site often and when I am in the office I will be busy writing up my reports. I also have team meetings where I get together with the head planner and senior partner to give updates and discuss the list of current jobs I am working on. At the end of the day I will prepare a list of things to be done the following day and I will check to see what meetings I have planned. It really is an interesting job as the planning system is always changing.