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Pre-application advice


The council encourages you to seek advice before submitting a formal planning application.

The pre-application advice service is known to improve the quality of planning submissions and speed up the process from submission to planning decision. This will also reduce the likelihood of you incurring costs for the submission of an unacceptable proposal.

This service applies to all types of development proposals.

There is a fee for the pre-application advice service. Details of the fees, along with information about what we provide, how the process works, what we need from you, and some points to note are available below.

Before you start your application

You will be asked to make payment at the time of applying for pre-application advice. To make a payment online you will need:

  • a debit or credit card (Visa and Mastercard only)

To ensure you get the most out of your pre-application advice you will need to upload:

  • a site plan
  • sketch/outline drawings and elevations
  • any further information you have about the proposals

Start now

The provision of the pre-application service is time consuming and costly, and the statutory planning application fees do not cover the cost of pre-application advice.

The Local Government Act 2003 allows us to operate a scheme of charging for discretionary services such as this so that the costs of providing the service do not fall to the Council Tax payers.

The council periodically reviews the pre-application fees to ensure that the fee covers the costs for providing this service. Fees for requests for pre-application advice were revised on 1 April 2016.

June 2020:

  • Due to current circumstances we are able to offer meetings in the form of conference/video calls should this be preferable.

Following further review, from 1 January 2017 it has been necessary to:

  • Introduce a fee for all proposals involving works to Listed Buildings.
  • Revise the fees for a meeting and for a letter only (with no meeting) for developments referred to as “Householder Alterations & Extensions and Other Proposals”.

It should also be noted that from 1 January 2017:

  • Requests for the Conservation Officer’s informal view as to whether works which have already been undertaken to Listed Buildings require Listed Building Consent, or these works which have already been undertaken conform with an approved Listed Building Consent, will be dealt with under the general fee for a planning research request, which is £100 per hour, or part thereof.
  • The fee for proposals for new works to Listed Buildings (that do not involve any development that falls under the Significant, Major and Minor definitions above) will be that for “other” development.
  • The fees for a planning history search from 1974 to present will be £40 per site.
  • The fees for a planning history search from pre-1974 will be dealt with under the general fee for a planning research request, which is £100 per hour, or part thereof.
  • Other requests for informal officer views on non-site specific queries will be dealt with under the general fee for a planning research request, which is £100 per hour, or part thereof.

Our pre-application service provides you with the following benefits:

  • Consistency in dealing with your pre-application submission and any subsequent applications for planning permission.
  • Information on key planning policies and previous planning decisions.
  • Advice in relation to all relevant planning matters and the planning merits of the proposal.
  • Informal comments and guidance, which are without prejudice, on the content, construction and presentation of an application likely to satisfy the council's planning policies.
  • Advice on the documents to be submitted with your planning application.

It will not provide:

  • Detailed technical advice.
  • A plan drawing/design service.
  • Feedback from outside organisations that we may consult at the planning application stage although we will give you details of organisations you may wish to contact directly.
  • Feedback from neighbouring residents or other interested parties that may be notified of your proposals at the planning application stage.

The benefits of pre-application advice:

  • It explains how planning policies, constraints and other requirements affect your proposals.
  • It identifies at an early stage any need for specialist input (for example, listed buildings, conservation areas, trees, noise, health, highway issues).
  • It gives an indication of the likely requirement for contributions to be made by a developer (for example, levels of affordable housing, highways, education or any other payments).
  • It will help you to submit a complete and accurate application for planning permission which complies with the relevant policies, plans and guidance and provided you take all the advice into account, it should be possible to determine your application in a shorter timescale.
  • It highlights unacceptable proposals, thereby saving you the time and costs of submitting a formal application.

For householder, minor and major development proposals, two types of pre-application advice are available, with different levels of charging as set out in our fees and charges:

  • written advice only, or
  • meeting and written advice

The following process should take place:

  • You will need to submit a pre-application request form and make payment as required in the Fees and Charges page. Details about how to do so will be sent to you in an email after submitting the online form.
  • We will write to you within five working days to acknowledge your request and give you a reference number.
  • We will carry out research and may visit the site.
  • We will seek the views of specialist officers dealing with matters such as economic development, conservation, highways and tree issues, as appropriate.
  • For written advice, we will endeavour to respond within 15 working days of receipt of the required fee and/or any additional information we have requested from you.
  • For the meeting/written response option the case officer will normally contact you within 10 working days to arrange a site visit and/or the initial meeting. Following this meeting you will receive a written response within 20 working days confirming the advice given (unless the complexity of the case requires a specific time frame to be agreed with the applicant).

Our written response will include an outline of any actions you may need to take in order to make your formal planning application valid, give details of any groups or organisations we think you may need to consult with, and provide an officer level opinion on the acceptability of your proposals.

If you require further specialist advice or wish to submit a revised pre-application proposal following our full written response to your enquiry, a further pre-application enquiry application and fee will need to be submitted and depending upon the proposal we may arrange a meeting/further meeting. We will go through the same procedures as outlined above.

Apart from the correct fee, the following information should be provided:

  • site location plan, preferably on an Ordnance Survey base map at 1:1250 or 1:2500, so that we can identify the site
  • sketch/outline drawings and elevations at suitable scales. For example, floor plans at 1:100 or 1:50, elevations at 1:100 or 1:50, block plan at 1:500
  • written details of the proposals

Other material such as photographs; site surveys; and drafts of supporting documents for example Design and Access Statement, Transport Assessment, Flood Risk Assessment, Ecological Surveys etc are optional at this pre-application stage. The more complex and large scale your proposal is, the more detail we are likely to require.

Please note that we do not retain a hard copy of any documents submitted, and will not be returning any documents to you. You should ensure that you keep copies of any originals for your own records.

The more information you provide the more specific our response will be.

The fees are set out below according to the category of development and whether you wish to have a meeting as well as a written response.

Fees from 1 January 2017

Meetings

Meetings (with letter) Fee (including VAT)
Pre-Application - Householder Alterations & Extensions and Other Proposals £100 (for 20 minute meeting)
Pre-Application - Minor Proposals £200 (for 30 minute meeting)
Pre-Application - Major Proposals £450 per hour
Pre-Application - Significant Major Proposals £900 per hour

Letters

Letter (no meeting) Fee (including VAT)
Pre-Application - Householder Alterations & Extensions and Other Proposals £75 per letter
Pre-Application - Minor Proposals £150 per letter
Planning history of a site (1974 to present) £40
Research requests, including planning history of a site from pre-1974 £100 per hour, or part thereof

Fees are non-refundable.

The fee needs to be paid before a request for pre-application advice will be processed.

  1. Householder Alterations & Extensions and Other proposals are defined as:
    • extensions and works to dwellings and flats (including garages and outbuildings)
    • extensions and alterations to curtilages of dwellings
    • proposals for works to Listed Buildings (that do not involve any development that falls under the significant, major and minor definitions below)
    • advertisements
    • installation of dropped kerbs and accesses to dwellings
  2. Minor proposals are defined as:
    • 1 - 9 dwellings
    • up to 999 square metre floor space new build or conversion (including extensions to shops, offices, etc.)
    • outline proposals capable of accommodating either of the above
  3. Major proposals are defined as:
    • 10 - 19 dwellings
    • 1,000 - 1,999 square metre floor space new build or conversion
    • Outline proposals capable of accommodating either of the above
  4. Significant major proposals are defined as:
    • 20 dwellings or more
    • 2,000 square metre floor space new build or conversion
    • outline proposals capable of accommodating either of the above
  5. The council has discretion to alter the fee for individual cases or in specific circumstances.
  6. Parish/town councils, charities and voluntary group not represented by a planning agent/architect/etc – free.  For those represented by a planning agent/architect/etc the fees will be dependent on the scale of development, as set out above.
  7. All pre-application fees levied by the council are in addition to any that are charged by external consultees.
  8. Where you have requested a meeting (with letter) but the enquiry can be answered without the need for a meeting (either on site or in the town hall) but through an exchange of correspondence, you will be contacted by the Case Officer for your agreement to proceed on that basis.  Please be aware that it will not be possible to reimburse any difference in fee as there are significant costs in administering such reimbursements.
  9. Due to the public interest in mobile telecommunications equipment, there is no charge for requests for pre-application advice for new mobile phone masts, or alterations to existing masts (including the equipment attached to them).

The council's advice is based on the planning policies and circumstances that apply at the time the advice is given. There is no guarantee that the advice will be relevant if there have been significant changes in either planning policy or the site and its surroundings by the time a formal application is received.

Providing there have been no material changes at the time an application is submitted, any pre-application advice given will be taken into account when determining the application.

Receipt of pre-application advice cannot guarantee the outcome of any subsequent planning application. It is only through the submission of a formal application that full consultation can be carried out and the decision may need to be taken at committee level. Therefore all advice is given on a 'without prejudice' basis.

Where pre-application advice is not followed, subsequent planning applications are likely to be determined without further negotiations.

Please note that we do not retain a hard copy of any documents submitted, and will not be returning any documents to you. You should ensure that you keep copies of any originals for your own records.