Leading planning and development consultancy Lichfields starts the new year on a high – with record turnover and plans for expansion during its landmark 60th anniversary year.

Lichfields, the pre-eminent planning and development consultancy in the UK with 215 people working from a network of nine regional offices, recently hit fee revenues of £22.6m and is aiming to pass the £25m milestone before the end of this year.

The company is recruiting as it looks to launch and develop several new services during 2022. These will include a new archaeology service within the existing heritage offer; an innovative place-making tool, and a fully integrated service aimed at dealing with the impacts of climate change.

Chief executive James Fennell said: “We’re delighted to launch a year of celebrations as we reflect on 60 years of working hard to service the needs of our clients and look forward to the time when are largely free of the constraints that Covid-19 has placed on all of us.

“Construction and property development has weathered the economic disruption caused by the pandemic and Brexit very well so far. We have been fortunate to work side-by-side with clients who have continued to invest and build for the future. I am therefore positive about 2022. Of course, there is still some uncertainty around Covid-19 and rising inflation. However, overall, the market looks buoyant and resilient.

“We will be focussing on staff wellbeing during the year while we grow the business and maintain our professional service levels for which we are well respected.”

Steady growth at Lichfields is set to continue through the growth of business activity around regional offices along with some high-profile projects that have gained national recognition. These include:

  • Milton Keynes East: A major expansion to the UK’s most successful New Town, for Berkeley, with 4,600 homes, 4m sq ft of employment space, four new schools, a 156-acre linear park along the River Ouzel, and a new crossing of the M1.
  • Teesworks: The regeneration of Europe’s largest brownfield site: 4,500 acres on the banks of the River Tees, and part of the UK’s largest Freeport.
  • Regeneration of Cardiff City Centre: Building on the success in the transformation of Cardiff City Centre, Lichfields obtained permission for the tallest building in the city at just under 100m for a 272 unit build to rent scheme for Galliford Try Investments.
  • International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP – located in Sunderland and South Tyneside): Working in partnership with IAMP LLP the scheme will deliver 4.2m sq ft of industrial floorspace for advanced manufacturing and automotive uses and includes the first contracted Gigaplant in the UK, overall creating 7,850 jobs.

In terms of trends and future challenges, James Fennell explained: “Climate change needs to be placed front and centre of planning system alongside the delivery of much needed new homes. Sustainable development has become such a ubiquitous term no one really understands what it means. If the purpose of the planning system is to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, what better way to capture this than a positive policy agenda with adapting to climate change as its main purpose.”

Fennell added: “Government needs to reflect on the very good progress that has been made in the delivery of much needed new homes over the last decade and build on that success. By repeatedly describing the system as broken the Government has got too bogged down in trying to fix it. With Michael Gove the rhetoric has begun to change. It’s not broken but it does need improving and, above all else, resourcing properly.

“The Government must start talking the planning system up so we can attract more talented younger people into the profession to help the UK adapt to climate change and deliver the new homes, infrastructure and other development that it needs.”