Sector set to grow further

UK planning firms expect business to climb strongly next year despite continued turbulence in the financial and property industries.

Planning's annual market survey, carried out in September, suggests that demand for planning services will increase by 14 per cent during this financial year. On average, individual consultancies expect fee income to rise 12 per cent in 2007-08.

While the credit crunch and the slowdown in house prices have prompted a mood of caution over prospects for early next year, most consultants expect involvement in long-term projects and strategies to keep order books topped up. Staff shortages are the main brake on expansion, they report.

RPS Group remains the market leader with 136 chartered planners in 13 regional offices and 553 planning fee-earners. Barton Willmore, Turley Associates and Savills Hepher Dixon are each fielding more than 100 planners.

RPS director of planning Chris Simkins said: "The jitters in the housing market are unlikely to affect the process of identifying future development sites. Land supply is the lifeblood of this industry and has always tended to transcend shorter-term economic variations."

See Planning Consultancy Survey 2007, pages 15-39.

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