A dynamic and award-winning consultancy offering integrated planning and architectural services, PlanArch Design Ltd operates from offices converted in 1994 from a former terrace of cottages in the Bishop Auckland Conservation Area.

We work regionally and nationally on planning and architectural schemes, with projects ranging from home extensions to major housing developments; designs for bespoke dwellings to work in the commercial, education and retail sectors; conversions and restoration of existing buildings, many with heritage credentials, as well as providing the full spectrum of planning consultancy services.

This may be purely town planning advice regarding clients’ issues or negotiations with local planning authorities; an appeal against a refusal of planning permission; or seeking to make an existing use lawful.

Based on our ethos that the client is paramount, we provide a personalised service from a dedicated team committed to producing schemes of the highest quality whilst working closely with clients from inception to completion.

Based on testimonials regularly received, we are aware that our clients willingly recommend us, and the great majority of our projects come to us as a result of recommendations or viewings of work previously undertaken.

PlanArch Design are at the heart of the community

In providing our planning and architectural services, we have remained conscious of our place in the community. Thus we are employers of local people wherever possible, and we have a record over a considerable number of years of taking students from local schools on work placements and, on a regular basis, employing a school leaver to train him or her through college and university to gain the necessary appropriate qualifications to work in the industry and to take their careers forward.

We also sponsor, wherever appropriate, local initiatives and sports clubs, such as local football teams, as part of our role in the business community of Bishop Auckland.

John Lavender – BSc (Hons) M.R.T.P.I.

John has a degree in Town and Country Planning from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and is a Chartered Planner as a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Initially working in local government, he now has 30 years experience working with private clients, and he has been a director of PlanArch Design since its formation in 2002.


John provides a specialist consultancy arm to the practice, handling matters for clients specifically requiring planning inputs, including negotiations with local planning authorities; planning appeals and legal issues; and representations to Councils. Additionally, his role is also as a member of the practice’s development team to provide added value to a co-ordinated service from inception, then through the planning process and thereafter to the client’s required stage of work.

Neil Box – BSc (Hons) BA (Hons) MCIAT

Neil studied at Teesside University gaining a degree in Interior Architecture in 1999 prior to joining the practice. He then went on to complete a degree in Architectural Technology at Northumbria University. Neil was admitted into Chartered Membership of the Charted Institute of Architectural Technologists and qualified as an Approved Energy Assessor for newly constructed dwellings in 2008.


Neil leads the architectural team and has experience in delivering a wide and varied range of projects; managing projects from inception to completion; and working closely as part of a team and with individual clients to ensure successful outcomes for projects. He became a director of PlanArch Design in 2012.

Don't just take our word for it, read what our clients have to say...

Read all our testimonials in our Client Testimonials page

  • Architects Registration Board
  • The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
  • Royal Town Planning Institute