Planning & Community

In the sections beneath, find out more about the strategic planning process and Ptarmigan’s role in obtaining planning for landowners.  In addition, learn more about Ptarmigan’s emphasis on community planning, localism, its response to affordable housing requirements and see a brief example of a implemented master plan in action.


The Planning system was introduced in the last century to help organise what had previously been a ‘free for all’ and has evolved over the years into a highly complex structure.

Despite many attempts to make it simpler, the process of obtaining planning remains both complicated, lengthy and expensive.  There was a time when we built the homes, places of employment, and infrastructure where it was most needed. When communities regarded a new housing development as something to be celebrated – not to oppose at all costs.

However, history repeats itself. The garden cities of the early 20th Century were borne out of the nation’s health crisis. The visionary planner-developers believed that every family had a right to escape crowded high density living conditions, and to secure a private or rented home of their own with a little bit of private garden space.  There has been a resurgence in the Garden City Principles which we whole-heartedly endorse.

In recent years it became a common view that the country’s housing requirements could be met from a seemingly never ending supply of brownfield sites, without using greenfield land, so we find ourselves now with the lowest housing delivery rate since World War II and a nation of ‘Nimbys’.

Town planning however may be about to experience a renaissance. The government’s response to the housing crisis has been to introduce the National Planning Policy Framework.

This document has simplified planning policy from literally thousands of pages to some 50 pages and this, combined with emerging and more practical guidance on specific issues, has certainly helped clarify things in many areas.  Planning however still remains a complex process and there are many elephant traps for the unwary

The planning process for strategic land starts with councils producing a Local Development Framework (LDF).  This is a spatial strategy to deliver a Council’s housing requirements over the next 5–20 years in their area.

Our role at Ptarmigan is to help get our landowner’s land included in those plans, as early in the process as possible, and keep them there through years of the plans evolution, until we can apply for, and gain, planning consent. A highly skilled, long term, process.

By putting together strong teams, with strong breadth and depth of experience, a typical project will have 20-30 people working on it, with the combined experience on our projects running to several hundreds of years, all targeted to deliver the right result for the landowner and the community.


Community Planning, Localism & Public Consultation

Ptarmigan understands resistance to change and we make it our mission to instigate an inclusive process called Community Planning that ensures local communities are fully involved in shaping the ideas and plans that go towards any new development that affects them.

The Ptarmigan team, the local community and other stakeholders attend open forum sessions together where the complex issues and constraints that surround a development are discussed together with other concerns, ideas and requests. This way we build a vision together that leads to places that are vibrant, valued and sustainable from the outset.

Strategic land development involves serious interaction with local councils, both at officer and councillor levels, as well as consultation and communication with a vast array of interested parties including the local community.

Sharing our emerging thoughts with councillors and their communities is a key area of focus for us and that involves site visits, briefings, presentations and the management of key information to the media when necessary. Inclusivity is embedded in to the way we work at Ptarmigan.

Community Planning

Sustainable and Respectful Development

The visual impact of any land development scheme is a truly vital component of any planned project. It begins by evaluating the existing landscape and assessing exactly how any new development can be sympathetically accommodated within it.

Trees, hedgerows, lakes and water, topology and vegetation, history and any existing buildings have all contributed to the historic evolution of the landscape to date and will go on to play their parts in the future.

Ptarmigan assesses all of these areas, plus others that individual sites may require, before any detailed plans are considered.

No Ptarmigan scheme goes ahead without first having a detailed study of the local flora and fauna and ecology of the area. This makes sure that any development can be added in a safe and sensitive way without impacting on the long-term future of the area.


Good Design & Affordable Housing

Ptarmigan takes great care to put good design at the heart of all of its developments.

Bad design is not simply depressing to the soul, it generates low values. In contrast, good design lifts values and creates thriving and sustainable communities where people want to live. When we sell development land in phases, which is often a necessity for large developments, the quality of the first phase sold sets the scene (and the price) for the whole of the development. Ptarmigan keeps quality at the forefront to deliver value.

In the past it was possible for a land owner / developer to pay little attention to any affordable housing obligations required through the planning process for new developments as historically it was only a low proportion.

However it is of course very different today with affordable housing requirements being more in the region of 30 – 50% of all new homes which has a significant impact on site viability and profit levels. It is therefore extremely important that the value achieved from the delivery of the required affordable housing considered at the earliest stage of the planning and development process.



A sustainable masterplan embeds environmental responsiveness and good public transport accessibility, utilises and protects a site’s assets and responds to local context. All sites will have their unique qualities and constraints, which need to be brought in to producing a master plan which builds on positives and helps mitigate any negatives.

The site at Channels, located four miles north of Chelmsford, presented an opportunity to create a distinctive new neighbourhood as part of the wider expansion of the town in accordance with Ptarmigan’s vision for the site.

The site was allocated for development as part of the North Chelmsford Area Action Plan (NCAAP) and was identified as a key component of the Borough’s future housing, employment, recreation and leisure requirements.

The design of the masterplan required a sensitive response to the context and assets of the site, which included the grounds of the former 27–hole golf course with lakes, mature woodland and rolling topography, a 14th Century clubhouse and an 18th Century thatched barn.

Over 300 people attended an exhibition, met the design team and made comments on the proposals prior to the outline application being submitted.


  • In-depth consultation reconciling stakeholder needs and aspirations with local planning requirements.
  • Development of a new community providing 750 homes within low, medium and high density neighbourhoods.
  • Design of an integrated masterplan with high connectivity to the local infrastructure planned in the Council’s Area Action Plan set within a network of open space and mature planting.
  • A proposal that minimises environmental impact through the retention and enhancement of biodiversity networks including green and aquatic corridors.
  • A phased delivery plan including the relocation of the existing golf course to a new site.

Master Planning