5 May 2022

A lot is at stake when a property is developed. Big or small, a host of moving parts need to be coordinated across a range of disciplines for a development to succeed.

With its suite of services, CKL is set up to enable property development success. They bring planning, surveying, civil engineering, transport engineering, environmental and stormwater engineering services. The whole package.

In general, the people with the most touchpoints across a given project are CKL’s Planning team. Daniel Brown is their Auckland Planning Manager.

“I think it’s fair to say the planner is a crucial link on many projects. Planners are often there from the very beginning and are involved in various capacities throughout the entire project. We connect with clients, architects, urban designers, builders, project managers, landscapers, ecologists, drain layers and engineers of every kind… just to name a few.”

Daniel says that planners are often described using the phrase ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ but what this really references is a planner’s ability to take often complex information from specialists in each area, interpret it and overcome any conflicting views and obstacles to ultimately present a clear solution to the client and other stakeholders.

“We have to be master communicators with a strong understanding of each stage of the development process, so perhaps ‘jack of all trades, master of co-ordination’ would be a more apt description,” explains Daniel.

This begs the question though: what does great communication look like? Daniel has very clear ideas on this.

“Think about communication from a client’s point of view. They want good advice, and they want it quickly so they can make informed decisions. At CKL, we aim to respond within 24 hours, and make a point of using the communication medium that the client prefers. If they like using phone calls or texts, then we’ll respond in kind. If email’s their thing, we’ll use that platform. Whatever makes communication easy for them.

“If the client is chasing us, then we haven’t done our job as well as we’d like. We look to provide regular, proactive updates, even when we don’t have anything new to offer, so clients are kept well-informed.”

This raises another key aspect of CKL’s communication. Honesty.

“Clients want us to be upfront and transparent. They want a realistic view of things so they can adjust their expectations and actions. The CKL planning team is often the voice of the company, so we make sure we’re being accurate and timely with the information we share.”

Daniel is grateful that he inherited a strong, talented team of planners when he joined in 2018 and is proud of how they have built on that. Over the last couple of years, CKL has expanded its planning numbers to stay ahead of the demand. There are seven planners in CKL’s Auckland branch, and nine across the Hamilton, Te Awamutu and Tauranga offices.

While the numbers tell one version of success, Daniel says the team’s successful culture is built on experience, motivation, pragmatism and teamwork and that tells a more important story.

“Within our planning team, we’re big on sharing to raise the standard across the whole team. That could be past experiences, key information, market trends and case law updates, or even a bit of group brainstorming when something needs to be resolved.

“Then there’s teamwork with other CKL colleagues. We’ve got such a wide range of expertise, it helps that our planners can walk over and sit with one of the engineers to thrash something out face to face.

“It’s the size of CKL that makes this synergy possible. We are a mid-size multi-disciplinary consultancy and sustainable growth across the company enables us to retain the quick and easy access to each other. We don’t have the silos that larger organisations struggle with.”

Teamwork necessarily extends beyond CKL’s walls. For Daniel and his team to secure resource consents, they must establish positive relationships within councils. In Daniel’s experience, it helps if you know the right people.

“I used to work in council, which helps me now that I’m on this side of the development fence. Often the biggest challenge coming in blind is being able to speak to the right person. I still have experienced and helpful contacts there, which means I can have frank and open discussions.

“I understand their perspective and the pressures they face, what the council is trying to achieve and what they regard as the crux of a given matter, which makes it easier to find common ground and work towards a good outcome for our clients.”

CKL also assists with processing work for council, and Daniel recognises the benefits as the team is able to keep up to date with internal council knowledge and trends, and it’s great for professional growth and their own work with private clients.

With a skilled planning team going from strength to strength, CKL is well-placed to face the legislative changes coming to the planning sphere in 2022 and beyond, from the overhaul of the Resource Management Act to the push for quality urban intensification in our main centres and beyond.

Planning for Successful Development