Pre-application planning advice for developers
Open and constructive pre-application discussions are an opportunity for local authorities and developers to work together to achieve developments that deliver benefits to the community and the economy. This can save time, costs and frustration and optimise the potential of a site. Whilst the council does not normally contact other bodies regarding pre-application enquiries, in certain instances developers are encouraged to contact government agencies before submitting planning applications. Links to the main relevant ones are in the Related websites section.
How to make an enquiry
Download and complete the pre-application advice form for non-householders (PDF, 46kb).
Before contacting us with your draft development proposals we ask you to:
- investigate the planning history of the site fully - does this tell you anything that may be relevant to your proposals?
- check the development plan designation of the site and any policies relevant to your proposals
- familiarise yourself with the development management and highway standards adopted by the council
To assist us in giving a detailed response it would be helpful if you could also provide the following in support of your enquiry:
- an assessment of the site characteristics, constraints/opportunities and its context in relation to the surrounding area
- accurate site survey plans and tree condition surveys (where applicable) - these will be required if a planning application is eventually to be submitted, these survey plans are likely to be useful in the process of designing a scheme too
- draft design principles for the site developed from the findings of the site survey work
Please note that we reserve the right to reject requests for pre-application advice where a prospective applicant has ignored advice previously given on the same site.
What happens next
Once we receive your request for pre-application advice we will acknowledge it within five working days and tell you the name of the planning case officer who is handling your enquiry. All communication from you to us should be via this officer.
If after an initial assessment we consider the pre-application process is not the most appropriate course to follow, we will tell you what alternatives are available.
After considering the information you have sent us, your case officer will decide whether to bring together a team of council officers from different disciplines. A development team approach means that you don’t have to contact different parts of the council separately, thus saving you time and giving consistency.
Following the assessment you may be asked for further information such as financial appraisals, travel plans, transport assessments, and possibly environmental assessments. Where a scheme may be subject to environmental assessment then early discussions should focus on issues relating to the screening and scoping of the proposal.
Within 30 working days you should be advised if a meeting with the case officer or development team would be helpful and/or further information is required. If no further information or meeting(s) are required then you should receive a written response within 40 working days.
Before a meeting
To make pre-application meetings as productive as possible, we may ask applicants or their agents for additional information. Please send the fee for the meeting and any additional information to your case officer at least five working days before the meeting. You will be advised of the officers attending the meeting and the fee when the meeting is agreed.
What advice can I expect to receive?
Your case officer will provide you with constructive and relevant written comments and advice to help you submit a planning application.
The advice given will depend on the complexity and nature of the proposed development but could include:
- relevant planning policies - an assessment as to whether the proposal complies with local, regional and national policies
- constraints - for example, conservation area, green belt, special protection area and so on
- land use - acceptability of proposed uses
- residential development - acceptability of mix of units, affordable housing requirement
- design - comments on built form, scale, massing, views, street scene, historic context and so on
- amenity - which properties may be affected and how, what further assessment is required in terms of daylight/sunlight studies, noise studies, tree surveys and landscape assessment.
- transport and highways - advice and comment on servicing, access, parking standards, cycle parking, disabled parking, requirements for a transport statements/assessments and Section 38/278 matters (Highways Act 1980)
- community engagement - who to contact - for example, local councils, community groups
- financial contributions - possible heads of terms or planning obligations that may be required together with an indication of likely contribution levels
Status of pre-application advice
Pre-application advice is given in good faith and will represent the case officer’s professional view. The advice given will be as accurate as possible, but it will be based only on the information available at the time of the enquiry and the case officer’s personal judgement. Therefore, positive feedback in pre-application discussions does not automatically mean that an application will be granted permission.
What if I disagree with the advice received?
In most cases, it is differences of opinion rather than factual errors that give rise to disagreement. These can only be resolved through the formal planning process. However, if you feel that something has gone wrong, please explain this to the officer involved, as he or she may be able to clarify the situation further.
Where an applicant fails to incorporate advice given at the pre-application stage into a formal planning proposal it is likely the application will be refused without any further negotiation.
If you are still dissatisfied with the service provided, you can make a formal complaint. For further information on the complaints procedure, please visit our comments, compliments and complaints page.
Follow up pre-applications
Submission of a follow-up pre-application
When you receive our response to your pre-application enquiry you may wish to follow up on the advice given. You can do this by providing us with any new or revised information within 12 weeks of the date of the initial inquiry response letter.
When submitting any further information you will need to state the original enquiry reference number and that it is a follow up pre-application. Any follow ups that are outside the 12-week time frame will necessitate a fresh pre-application enquiry and accompanying fee.
These pre-applications will be given a new reference number and the applicant will be informed of this in writing. Applicants will only receive one free go per pre-application enquiry and your proposal must be of the same character/scheme and submitted by the original applicant/agent. If it is necessary for a meeting to take place to discuss your follow up enquiry a fee will be payable.
Follow up meeting
If the applicant or agent does not want to submit a follow on enquiry but does wish to meet with the officer to discuss the content of the response letter, a meeting can be arranged with the case officer at no additional cost. However this meeting must be requested within 12 weeks of the date of the response letter.
Following refusal of a planning application
Applicants can receive one free pre-application enquiry, providing that the proposal is of the same character/scheme to that of the refused application.
The new enquiry must be received within 12 weeks of the date of the refusal notice and must include the refused application number and new or revised information.