Do I need to appoint an architect who has worked in my local area?
The short answer is No! A good architect can work anywhere and should be proficient in working with national and local planning policies. The planning application process is common across England, with occasional nuances in the types of drawings to be submitted eg. Some authorities like to see a section drawing taken through any proposed buildings, highlighting internal and external heights and levels. However, as a matter of course all good architects should double-check these requirements (Even within authorities they commonly interact with) just in case there have been minor requirement amendments made by the local authority since their last application.
It is a complete myth that having ‘a good relationship’ with any individual planner can guarantee a favourable outcome. Fundamentally, each and every planning submission is randomly allocated to a case officer within any given planning department, with each application judged on its own merits by the planners. More commonly this may be a junior planner whom you may liaise with, then the project will be ratified by a senior planner before any final decision is made. A good architect will make sure the proposals prepared for your project exceed your expectations but also comply as far as possible with local planning policy. If relative to your brief there is a desire to develop a scheme that conflicts with or seeks to test local policy, your architect should make you aware of the risks involved, such as a refusal and agree on a strategy to take the project forward with which you are comfortable.
Another major truth relative to the English planning system is that NO architect can guarantee a successful planning application and permission. This is because fundamentally, part of the decision-making process within the planning system is subjective, particularly with regard to the visual appearance of a scheme. However, if like us, your architect will have an incredible track record for success at planning and will be well-versed in entering a constructive dialogue with the planning case officer and or the senior planner. This is in order to discuss the proposals, and should there be any issues, seek to explain further and or reach an agreeable solution and successful Approval.