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 that a proposal is completely unacceptable, saving you the cost of pursuing a formal application

Our service

Regrettably, from the 4 April 2022 and until further notice we are only able to provide pre-application advice for major developments at our Level 3 service.

Any requests received prior to the 4 April 2022 will be dealt with but may take up to three months for a response.  Clear guidance will be provided in acknowledgement to any requests received.

Level 3 Service

Level 3 Major Proposals (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 one hectare in size

Payment is required in advance of meetings. Should the meeting overrun you will be invoiced for the additional time prior to your agreement.

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.

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

Services suspended from 4 April 2022 until further notice:

  1. Free services
    • 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
    • Written advice prior to an application for:
  2. Level 1: Change of Use, Advertisement and other related applications (charged service)
    • Proposals that need permission other than free services listed above and those covered in Levels 2 and 3 below
  3. Level 2: Minor Proposals (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.

Listed Building Advice

The council, regrettably, is unable to provide pre-application advice in respect of any works requiring listed building consent (this includes paid advice) at the moment.  

There is of course advice that can be sought outside of the council through Conservation Architects and Conservation Practices and we would urge you to seek such advice before applying for listed building consent or carrying out any works to your listed building.

Format of Advice

Any advice given by Council Officers for pre-application enquiries does not indicate any formal decision by the Council as Local Planning Authority. Any views or opinions are given in good faith, and to the best of ability, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application.

The final decision on any application that you may then make can only be taken after the Council has consulted local people, statutory consultees and any other interested parties.

The final decision on an application will then be made by senior officers or by the Council’s Planning Committee and will be based on all of the information available at that time. You should therefore be aware that officers cannot guarantee the final formal decision that will be made on your application (s).

Any pre-application advice that has been provided will be carefully considered in reaching a decision or recommendation on an application; subject to the proviso that circumstances and information may change or come to light that could alter that position. It should be noted that the weight given to pre application advice notes will decline over time.

Disclosing information on pre-application discussions

Although the council does not automatically publicise the details of pre-application discussions with potential developers whilst processing a request, there are circumstances where we will publish and/or disclose the advice provided by the Local Planning Authority.

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 General Data Protection Regulations. 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.

Similarly, in the interests of transparency, a decision has been taken that we will now also publish our pre-application advice on any subsequent planning application that is submitted for the same site and same/similar proposal.  Any personal data will of course be removed to ensure Data Protection is observed.

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
  • Include correct fee for Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 advice. Payment is now required in advance of meetings. Should the meeting overrun you will be invoiced for the additional time prior to your agreement.

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.