What is the Difference Between a Planner and an Architect?

You might be wondering what is the difference between a planner and an architect when it comes to preparing a development application and do you need both.

In this video, Max Fragar, Principal Planner and PIA Life Fellow, shares why you really want to have both working together.

Click on the “Play” button below to watch now:

Or for those that prefer to read, here is a transcript of the video…

What is the difference between a town planner and an architect? I’m Max Fragar from the Council Approval Group.


What’s the difference? An architect draws plans. An architect prepares plans and designs and is a very, very important part of the process. However, the development application in New South Wales is very complex.

Town Planners

Town planners have been trained in all aspects of an application. They have some background in architecture, but they’re not an expert in architecture. They may have background in the engineering aspects or the traffic or the drainage or the environmental. Town planners may have some background in all of those components of an application. So they’re responsible for putting together the application and pulling all the components together.

Why You Need Both

The architect, will work closely, will work shoulder to shoulder with the town planner. We have set up our own registered architectural practice because we found that the architect and the planner need to work closely together. But the architect commences after we know what the project is and what the rules are, so then the architect can be briefed. The architect is very important and we’re finding it so much better now to have our own architectural practice because they work shoulder to shoulder. It helps the whole project come together. The planner says this is the setback, height, and streetscape requirements. Then the architect works on it with the client.
So they work together, but they have very, very different functions. And, in our case, working together is proving to be very beneficial.
So we recommend both the planner and the architect, but we need to understand the difference between the two. All the best with your project.