What is pre-application planning advice?
This is a process which encourages anyone wanting to carry out development to talk with the local planning authority to obtain informal guidance in advance of submitting a formal application. In order to maintain a high standard of service the Council has decided to introduce charges for most types of pre-application advice to offset the costs of supplying an effective service. In the context of development costs, these charges are seen as modest and appreciably less than normal private sector charges.
Advice offered on the prospect of planning permission is informal officer opinion only and cannot bind the authority in the event of a formal application.
Advantages for customers?
There are a number of benefits for customers, including planning agents, of pre-application discussions with the local planning authority including:
- Confirmation as to whether planning or associated forms of permission such as Listed Building or Conservation Area Consent are required;
- Obtaining a site history;
- Gaining a clear understanding of planning policies and other material planning considerations;
- Possible cost saving in not proceeding if the Council advises that there are difficult issues to overcome or a high risk of refusal;
- A better quality formal submission as a result of officer advice, which may suggest design improvement or alteration to avoid conflict with neighbouring uses or the character of the area, or which other bodies to consult early - for example the Environment Agency in areas at risk of flooding;
- A complete valid formal application and correct fee which will minimise delays;
- A better understanding of timescales, and administrative and committee processes;
- In major or clearly contentious cases obtaining advice on community engagement, and possibly entering into a Planning Performance Agreement to allow legal agreements and other factors which may delay decisions to be concluded outside the normal statutory timescale.
The pre-application planning advice service we will provide
On receipt of your enquiry and, where appropriate the fee, we will provide an acknowledgement letter telling you:
- Where possible who is dealing with the enquiry
- That we will endeavour to deal with the enquiry in writing (by post or preferably by email) in 28 days, to allow for research and a possible site visit. If this timescale is likely to be exceeded due to the nature of the enquiry or other workload issues a further letter will be sent setting out a revised response time.
Depending on the nature of the enquiry the response will include some or all of the following information:
- Whether you need planning or other associated forms of permission, if that is your request
- The planning history of the site
- What relevant planning policies apply
- What other material considerations are likely to be taken into account
- A view on likely problems/issues that will arise from policy, history or material considerations
- Offering a meeting where requested on site or at the office
For major proposals the process may take longer, an extended timescale can be negotiated where necessary to enable more detailed research to take place along side the service detailed above.
What information will we require?
The more comprehensive the information supplied, the fuller our response will be; this may help to avoid a site meeting and reduce the time taken by us to respond. As a guide the following information is the minimum requirement to enable us to process your enquiry:
- The requisite fee, if required;
- Full contact details including phone numbers and email address;
- The address and location plan( Scale: 1:1250 or 1:2500) of the site and information about its existing use;
- A description of the proposal;
- A sketch plan/diagram (Scale 1:100 or 1:200), and photographs of the site showing existing buildings, trees, hedges, access points and parking availability: this list is not comprehensive; A sketch of all elevations (Scale 1:100 or 1:50) of the new building/extension showing door and window positions;
- Photographs of the site;
- Any other information considered relevant.
Forms and fees
Pre-application planning advice will continue to be offered on a strictly without prejudice basis, and it will be made as reliable as possible. All advice will be based on the information provided, but it will not be any guarantee that any subsequent application will result in a particular decision and it will not be binding on the Council. Opinion may change, for example, during the formal application process as a result of views of consultees and other interested parties. It also has to be acknowledged that some decisions will be made by Planning Committee, rather than by officers, and in some cases they may reach a different view.