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Masterplanning: Tips for Project Managers

Masterplanning: Tips for Project Managers

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Published by Jon Herbert
Short precis of presentation establishing some key tips for project managers responsible for masterplanning projects.
Short precis of presentation establishing some key tips for project managers responsible for masterplanning projects.

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Published by: Jon Herbert on Sep 08, 2012
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masterplans: tips for project managers a précis

JHP

06/01 JHP Articles, March 2010

JHP
masterplans: tips for project managers - a précis I was recently invited to make a presentation establishing a series of ‘top tips’ for project managers to consider when preparing masterplans. This brochure is a précis of that presentation. great masterplanning! The presentation was aimed primarily at those project managers working in the masterplanning field. However, its messages are equally applicable across a range of specialisms in the planning sector. It is by no means comprehensive, though does act as a handy reference guide. Great masterplanning is at the heart of the planning process, and particularly so given the move towards a spatial planning approach over the last few years. Cabe have published numerous documents on the subject, including the client guide to creating successful masterplans and the series of design reviewed documents. Tip one for project managers is to familiarise yourselves with this guidance material: Cabe and/or the local design review panel will be interested in the masterplan at some stage so it is worth keeping abreast of best practice. what is the end goal? It is important to understand what you are preparing and why, for example, whether you are preparing a masterplan that will be adopted as part of the LDF, whether you are preparing a site capacity assessment for valuation purposes, or whether you are working towards a planning application. This is relevant because although all of these outputs will involve masterplanning, they do imply different approaches, particularly in terms of the final shape and structure of the documents and drawings

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prepared, the consultation undertaken and the overall programme for the work. Understanding the output at an early stage will help you tailor the programme and the different specialisms required to complete the work (see below). As an example, the level of detail presented in the final output may vary according to what it is you are producing. You’ll need to go into a fair amount of detail in all masterplanning work but, if your masterplan is for an SPD, you might want to take a step back from the detail in the final document. You’ll want to know that building typologies, footprints, layouts, heights, streets and spaces work, and these should be explored and tested through the course of the masterplan. In the final output though, stepping back and presenting a broad structure and set of guiding principles will then provide architects and developers with the flexibility to take the work through to the next stage of detail. If working towards a planning application, you should be aware if you are submitting a full application, whether it is an outline application with reserved matters, and if so, what is being reserved and what supporting statements and assessments are required. These may depend on the size and scale of the application.

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get the right team! Knowing what your output is will help shape the team needed for the work. Specialist inputs will most likely be needed, to help shape the masterplan or to help justify the planning rationale for an application. Importantly, your specialists need to be integrated into the wider project team from the outset, allowing you to work alongside each other to identify constraints at an early stage and thus what the solutions might be. This will help to deliver a successful design response, as opposed to having to retrofit work at a later stage if the team isn’t fully engaged at the start: this could lead to abortive work and an unsatisfactory design solution. When working on a planning application, the 1APP form and Council checklist will help you to identify what you need to submit and thus what skills are required for this: it may necessitate expert advice on flood risk, tree surveys, waste and utilities amongst others. Also useful in terms of applications is making sure the legal team is able to provide you with the right details up front, in terms of the red line boundary, site ownerships and leases etc. Beware that misinformation could cause headaches later on: it could call for a redesign and serving of notices. build relationships Once the team is in place you’ll want to build and maintain good relationships, which will help with the smooth running of the project. So, keep people informed and meet with the project team on a regular basis. Of fundamental importance will be your external relationships, particularly with your client. See them as part of the project team and involve them throughout the life of the project. Meet at key stages and discuss key planning and design issues. Design reviews are a great way of involving the whole team, subjecting the work to peer review and hearing a whole range of views and opinions. This can also help you when it comes to explaining various options and the evolution of the preferred approach - through a Design & Access Statement for example. When working on applications you’ll also want to build good relationships with the case officer and Development Management team: this will help build a common understanding of the application, the primary planning arguments and any issues that need attention to help achieve a successful outcome. creative, inspired, transformational So, with all the above in place, the team can then do what it does best. Masterplanning is a crucial means for bringing about physical regeneration: successful masterplans can help improve the quality of life, raise aspirations, provide greater choice and opportunity. Great masterplanning should have the power to inspire, they should be visionary, with clear aims and objectives. They should create attractive places for people to live, work and enjoy. They also need to be forward thinking and put in place the foundations for future change. respond to local issues and identity However, masterplans should avoid imposing solutions on a place. Rather, they should respond to local character and issues, reflecting wider social, economic and environmental issues as identified through the production of an evidence base and through responses to consultation.

JHP

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robust, sound, tested The visionary masterplan needs to be tempered by a sense of realism. Many masterplans are unimplementable: they sit on shelves collecting dust only to be reproduced or recommissioned a few years down the line. This is not helpful to anyone. The masterplan needs to be able to stand up to scrutiny, it should be fully tested and, particularly in the context of the current economic climate, deliverable. This is a key issue to bear in mind. To borrow a statement from Cabe: “For a masterplan to be complete it must be supported by financial, economic and social policy documents and delivery mechanisms, without which the spatial plan has little meaning or likelihood of effective implementation”. So options need to be explored and subject to testing against the vision and objectives throughout the process. The vision and objectives should be embedded in the locality. Delivery should be considered at all stages of the work. varied consultation techniques In this respect, consultation will form an essential part of the masterplan, helping to identify issues and opportunities. Different types of consultation will be appropriate, depending on the consultee, the scale and type of work undertaken. It is always good to get people actively involved through an interactive and engaging process, using techniques such as Placecheck, Town Teams, Workshops and Charettes. The early production of a Consultation Strategy and review of what has gone before will help you identify who to engage with, where, when and how. know your audience! Your consultation strategy should establish the means for engaging with different groups of people. Technical discussions may be appropriate when liaising with statutory consultees for example, but may not be as appropriate when engaging with local communities. Successful masterplanning needs to be a joint effort and thus the knowledge and understanding of the local community needs tapping into. You’ll want to build the trust of the local community: this may take time and may involve a programme of meetings and workshops, including training in urban design and placemaking principles. Investing time on consultation will help win hearts and minds and thus the production of an acceptable solution: good consultation should demonstrate the art of the possible.
> tailor reports and presentations to your audience

JHP
be clear When engaging with people, either through consultation or through words and drawings, you should aim to make things clear and concise. There is an unacceptable amount of jargon in planning: you should try and avoid this where possible. However, don’t ‘dumb down’: you’ll only end up patronising and alienating the reader. As project manager, you should read and review work to ensure consistency and style. If possible, exercise editorial control to avoid different writing styles. You should also get documents and drawings proofed: this is particularly important where complex applications are being prepared and where information needs to be cross referenced and checked for consistency across numerous documents. It is good practice to prepare a report structure and drawings list: this will evolve and change during the course of the work, but will provide a framework for people to work to - and will help you manage and coordinate inputs. And don’t forget the power of an executive summary: a great way to get to the heart of the subject matter, providing pointers for more detailed information in the body of the report or supporting documents.

> respond to identified issues and test your ideas

JHP
plan, programme, review The project manager needs to be prepared: programme the work stages, tasks and outputs, when these are needed and who from. Schedule meetings, but beware committee lead-in times, which can be anywhere between four and eight weeks. Keep a risk register if you can, which will be used to monitor changes and the implications of these on the project: it will help you agree and programme alterations. But this also means you need to be flexible and adaptable: the very nature of these types of project means they change and evolve over time, so keep people informed and yourself organised! Lastly, masterplanning is challenging, creative and thought provoking, but done well, it is incredibly rewarding - so take pride and pleasure in the work. top tips! summary So, here we are, in no particular order, my tips for project managers: 1. Keep abreast of best practice 2. Understand what your output is 3. Get the right team together 4. Generate good team and client relationships 5. Underpin vision with realism 6. Respond to issues identified through baseline 7. Ensure work is tested and deliverable 8. Tailor consultation techniques 9. Organise and review reports and content 10. Plan, programme, monitor and review And finally - have fun! > Jon Herbert, JHP, March 2010 about JHP I am a freelance planner avaliable for contract and consultancy work. I am a highly qualified, experienced and fully chartered planning consultant with extensive knowledge in strategic planning, masterplanning, policy research and formulation. I have worked for major consultancies - including Urban Initiatives, Llewelyn Davies, CB Hillier Parker and Halcrow Fox - where I haveundertaken projects for a range of private and public sector clients, including central and local government and the regional development agencies. My work has covered the fields of policy and research, integrated planning and transportation, design, regeneration, consultation and development. I am well versed on issues relating to town centres, urban expansion, strategic planning, best practice, housing density and social & community infrastructure. With twelve years’ experience in the consultancy sector I bring to my work a thorough understanding of the planning process with sensitivity to the issues of design and masterplannning. I have excellent report writing, drawing, analytical, problem solving, presentation and project management skills. I have led project teams across a wide range of scales and disciplines.

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I have a comprehensive understanding of the current sustainable communities agenda, having worked on a number of studies in the Growth Areas, addressing issues such as regeneration, land supply, housing delivery, urban capacity and expansion. I have led on the production of AAPs, SPDs and technical policy documents to support and guide the evolution of the LDF process. I have devised and run successful and innovative community and stakeholder engagement exercises, have a successful proposal writing and tendering record and excellent knowledge across a range of planning sectors and the LDF process. contact should you be interested in learning more, please contact me using the following details: Jon Herbert m: +44(0)7920 151280 e: jon@jhplanning.co.uk w: www.jhplanning.co.uk Alternatively, you can ‘connect’ with me on Linked In. See my profile at: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonherbert76

JHP
masterplans: tips for project managers 06/01 JHP Articles, March 2010 www.jhplanning.co.uk

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