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Pre-Application Advice

Benefits of pre-application advice

  • Identifies at an early stage any need for specialist advice or surveys  e.g. trees, landscape, noise, transport, contaminated land, ecology or archaeology
  • Assists in preparing proposals for formal submission
  • Following our advice leads to quicker decisions when an application is made and produces more positive outcomes
  • Can lead to lower costs due to a reduction in time spent by your professional advisors in working up proposals
  • May indicate thata proposal is completely unacceptable, saving you the cost of pursuing a formal application

Our service

We provide four different levels of pre application advice depending on the type of application. 

  1. Free services
    • Written advice prior to an application for:
      • Expansion or setting up of new business in the borough
      • Alterations or extensions to single dwellings and other householder applications (not including new or replacement dwellings)
      • Works to trees
      • Advice on how to submit an application to establish whether planning permission is or was required (known as a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development), and
      • Advice prior to making an application resulting from an enforcement investigation
  2. Level 1: (charged service)
    • Proposals that need permission other than free services and those in listed above and in levels 2 and 3 below including other changes of use, advertisement and other related application
  3. Level 2: (charged service)
    • Written advice on all minor developments which are those that do not meet the criteria for level 3 and are not a change of use or householder development.
  4. Level 3 (charged service)

    • A meeting followed by written advice on major developments. These are:
      • Applications for 10 residential units or more
      • Residential sites of 0.5 ha or more
      • The creation or change of use of 1000m2 or more of non-residential floor space
      • All sites of more than 1 hectare in size

Charges include the cost of obtaining advice from other council services, e.g. drainage, environmental protection etc. and external consultation where available to us.

Any charges are in addition to fees for making planning and advert applications. Fees for planning applications are available on our Planning Fees webpage.

For large scale or applications of significance in sensitive areas we will ask if you are happy to involve the relevant Parish Council in discussions in accordance with our Pre-application Parish Protocol [pdf] 48KB.

You may also need to look at our S106 Agreements - What they can cover page and our Unilateral Undertakings pages.

Disclosing information on pre-application discussions

Although the council does not automatically publicise the details of pre-application discussions with potential developers, under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 we may receive from time to time a request from a member of the public to provide information regarding enquiries for pre-application advice and of any advice given. Subject to certain exemptions, we are obliged to provide this information, although personal contact details are protected under the Data Protection Act. It is important that our full guidance found on the following page Pre-Application Advice and EIR 2004 is understood before an application is made. 

What you need to do

For all level enquiries, you will need to email us or write including :

  • An explanation/description of what you want to do
  • Full site address and location plan (preferably at 1:1250 scale) with the site outlined in red
  • Any relevant information about previous uses
  • Sketch drawings providing details of the proposal with floor plans and how the building will look from the outside (elevations) as well as how it will relate to nearby buildings
  • Photographs of the site can also be helpful

Further information may be required for major development pre-application advice. It is therefore important you check full advice offered on each page specific to the level of your enquiry:

  1. Free services
  2. Level 1
  3. Level 2
  4. Level 3

Sending the information and your request by email can speed up our reply. 

Further guidance can also be found on our frequently asked questions page.

Planning policy advice

The Planning Policy team can provide advice on pre-allocation Local Plan site discussions and offer planning policy guidance. More information can be found on our Planning Policy Advice page.

Note: Questions marked by * are mandatory