Pre-Application Advice

Preparing to carry out a development can be expensive. To help you minimise the cost of this process, we provide a chargeable pre-application advice service.

Pre-application advice is provided by planning officers employed by the council helping you to understand how we are likely to determine any subsequent planning application, and any changes that are likely to be needed, if any, to give your scheme the best chance of being granted a planning permission.

It’s important to note that the guidance given is informal advice and does not bind the council in any future decision it makes. However, in our experience where pre-application advice is obtained and incorporated into any scheme, developments are more likely to be granted planning permission and decisions are made significantly faster.

We are committed in the recovery of the local economy.  To support local business in response to the Covid-19 pandemic you can use our free fast-track service for businesses that are making changes due to Covid-19 which may require planning permission .

This free service only applies to temporary changes needed to help businesses get up and running during the COVID-19 recovery period. Standard charges for pre-application advice apply for any other planning advice enquiries.

We provide a range of chargeable pre-application advice services dependent on your needs which range from householder advice including listed buildings to major development and applications for Commercial and Retail development.

Get further information on the categories of service by downloading our pre-application advice categories and fees charging schedule.

The service will help you:

  • Understand how policies will be applied to your proposal
  • Identify potential problems and possible solutions before you make an application
  • Reduce the burden of additional costs and time consuming amendments to submitted applications
  • Provide input from specialists where appropriate

We offer an option of written advice or a meeting with written advice as detailed in our categories and fees schedule.

Details of our response to your enquiry can vary depending on whether it is a small or large development.

Our response will generally cover:

  • The main issues
  • Site constraints, for example, Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Area, Listed Building, flood risk area.
  • Whether the proposed development is acceptable in principle
  • Comments on particular details of the proposal, scale of development, design, highway implications, amenity, environmental issues such as noise, contamination, biodiversity, flooding, and drainage.
  • Additional supporting information or technical reports that may be required to accompany an application.

Any subsequent changes to planning legislation or planning policies may affect the advice given which means the weight that can be given to pre-application advice could diminish over time.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that any subsequent planning application submitted is properly detailed and complies with council adopted guidelines and policies, together with national and other relevant policy guidance.

You should be aware that any advice given by the Council in relation to pre application advice will be based on the Officers professional judgement and without prejudice to the formal consideration of any subsequent planning application. Favourable pre application advice cannot guarantee that a subsequent application will be successful. This is because when we receive a formal application it will be subject to further consultation and publicity which may raise other issues.

The following information and plans should be submitted when you apply for the service as information provided at a later date may not be considered. The information we require as minimum includes:

  • A site location plan at an appropriate scale, usually 1:1250 or 1:2500
  • Details of current use and site history if known
  • Details of the nature and scale of the development proposed
  • Photographs of the site and its surroundings
  • Sketch drawings of the proposed development to include a proposed layout, floorplans and elevations, sufficient enough to indicate the scale and height of development proposed.

If insufficient information is submitted we may be unable to provide pre application advice.

For pre-application advice where written advice is requested we will aim to provide you with written advice within 28 days of the receipt of a valid request

For pre-application advice where a meeting is requested we aim to set up a meeting within 21 working days of your request being received.

Following a meeting we will provide you with written advice and aim to do this within 14 days of the meeting. Where this is not possible, for example due to the issues being more complex, a specific time scale will be agreed with you at the meeting.

A fee is charged for pre application advice as set out in our pre-application advice categories and fees charging schedule.

The fee charged will depend on the level of service chosen and the number of meetings requested. 

A further supplementary charge will be applicable where officers from the Environment Agency or ESCC Highways are required to attend meetings. We will advise you of this charge before we proceed.

Requests for advice and payment should be made by completing the online pre application advice form and submitting the accompanying information. Your request will not be processed without the appropriate fee.

Once your request has been received and checked, we aim to contact you within 5 working day. If we need further information at this time we will let you know what we need when we contact you. 

While all pre-application discussions will be treated in confidence the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requires us to make documents available to the members of the public upon request however there are exemptions for example where the information is of a commercially sensitive nature. If this is the case mark your documents accordingly upon application. 

Should a planning application be submitted where pre-application advice was sought, once the application has been determined the council will upon receipt of an FOI request, disclose the information. 

The final decision as to the release of any information is the responsibility of the council. 

Further details relating to exemptions under FOI and how we use your data can be found on our data protection page.