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 • Experts may have gone out of fashion in UK political circles, but when it comes to getting planning permission to convert a historic buildings in to a hotel, they are very much in evidence – as architect Nick Childs found out when working on designs for an extension at Thornbury Castle, near Bristol.

Childs lists “the sheer number of experts that are needed, even to make the initial submission for planning approval. From archaeologists to ecologists, highways consultants to drainage engineers”.

While this inevitably adds extra time and cost to the process, it ensures that historic properties have safeguards against the more eccentric or brutal ends of the development spectrum, and means that important buildings are preserved for future generations.

Rather than design objections, it is quite often the native flora and fauna which gets in the way of planning consent being granted. When, in a previous role I edited a magazine for the housebuilding sector, it was the presence of the great crested newt which often held up the bulldozers, much to the chagrin of the developers. In Childs’ case it was bats – click here to find out the full story.

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