How do you normally charge for your service?

Payment is by electronic bank transfer or cheque.

What experience and qualifications do you have to make you the right person for the job?

PLANET URBAN's Principal Planner, Steven Hughes has over 30 years experience as a professional town planner, having worked initially within local goverment and in more recent years as a private consultant to a number of Sydney councils (including Randwick City, Sydney City and Willoughby Councils), SPD Town Planners, as an Associate of David Crane and Associates Planning and Development Consultants, and to a number of architectural firms including Habitat Architects, Jim Demetriou Group, Geoform Design Architects, Adriann Winton Architects, Barry Rush and Associates, Hill Thalis Architects, McGregor Westlake Architecture, Thomson Adsett Architects, NLA Architecture, Urban Den Architects, GSA Architects, and other chartered architects and building designers.

Why should a customer hire you over another service provider?

PLANET URBAN provides our customers with experienced professional town planning services at highly competitive rates and offers free quotes based on a fixed hourly rate or fixed fee for service.

What makes your pricing competitive?

Unlike other larger town planning consultancies, PLANET URBAN operates from a home office which limits the business's overheads and allows us to pass these savings on to our customers through more competitive service fee rates.

Is there a particular aspect of your trade or industry that you specialise in?

PLANET URBAN specialises in the preparation of Statements of Environmental Effects to accompany Development Applications to local councils for a wide range of development types, including new houses, alterations and additions to existing houses, dual occupancies and secondary dwellings ('granny flats'), residential flat buildings and mixed use developments, boarding houses, Torren's and strata subdivisions, changes of use, restaurants and cafes, childcare centres, etc., and the provision of town planning advice relating to same.

How can a customer save money before you start the work?

Provide a copy of Council's Section 10.7 Certificate or Contract of Sale (where available) for the property in question, which provides zoning information and a summary of the relevant town planning instruments (i.e.State, Regional and Local Environmental Plans and Policies), Council development control plans and policies, and status (whether the property is identified as a heritage item and/or contained within a heritage conservation area, or scenic protection area, subject to flooding or affected by acid sulfate soils, etc.) which apply to the property.

What are the typical things that you need to know before you can provide a quote to a customer?

Details as to the nature and scale of the proposed development project (architectural drawings if available), whether there are any known proposed non-compliances with Council's development standards and design controls (e.g. building FSR, height, setback, and parking requirements), or potential view impacts to neighbouring/surrounding residential properties, and heritage status (whether the site is a heritage item or within a heritage conservation area) if known, etc.

What questions do customers commonly ask and how would you answer them?

What can I build on my land and what are the development controls that apply? Can they be varied, how and in what circumstances? The answers to these questions are often complex depending upon the zoning of the land, the development type and the context in which it is proposed. The primary development controls, such as FSR, building height and allotment size, are contained in Local Environmental Plans which are prepared and implemented by the local Council. These standards vary according to the zoning of the land and the type of development proposed. Secondary development controls, contained in Council's Development Control Plan/s, include maximum site coverage, and minimum building setback, landscaped area and parking requirements. Development Control Plans also set standards in relation to building, car parking and landscape design, privacy, overshadowing and solar access, view loss, noise and traffic management where relevant, etc.

What do you like most about your job?

The challenge of balancing the client's development expectations against the controls that apply to any particular property, and achieving a development outcome which best meets the needs of the client while meeting Council's development requirements and expectations.

How did you decide to get into your line of work?

PLANET URBAN's Principal Planner, Steven Hughes has always been interested in the fields of architecture, building and town planning, the complex interplay and overlay of these three fields, and how these fields work together to shape the urban landscape and built form environment.