Here is a list of professionals who have experience of assessing OPD applications, as we’re aware that some councils have found it difficult to source suitable expertise. The following independent professionals are well versed in the policy and can offer somewhat different perspectives – your preference may depend on what kind of input you are looking for.
• Geo Ltd are a team of experts in rural planning including OPD, and are actively involved in writing policy guidance for OPD (currently working with Cornwall). They work regularly with LPAs (notably Carmarthenshire) to appraise OPD applications. They also work with applicants and have unrivalled experience in this area.
Contact: James Shorten: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Kate Hiseman, from the Sustainable Land Trust provides independent OPD planning services.
• Prospero Planning in Cardiff offer OPD assessments. In particular Emma Watkins has undertaken our training and has been contracted by Carmarthenshire to assess some OPD applications.
• Tomas Remiarz is a permaculture consultant who has undertaken our training and is highly expert in the kind of low-impact small-scale mixed agricultural development common to OPD.
There may be many other consultants who would be suitably qualified to assess an OPD application, either the planning aspects or specifically relating to the holistic land-based activities on site. We would, however, advise that when contracting externally for such work, it is important to ensure that contractors are aware that the planning framework for assessing OPD is entirely distinct from that used to assess rural enterprise or agricultural dwellings. In our experience the use of conventional agricultural assessors for OPD applications invariably leads to a protracted planning process dominated by policy misinterpretations and misunderstandings. We suggest a clear focus on assessment of the Essential Criteria of OPD as laid out in the Practice Guidance.