Pre-application advice for householder planning proposals

Pre-application discussions on planning applications can be hugely beneficial, as both parties have a better understanding of the objectives and any constraints which may exist. Adopting a positive attitude towards early engagement means applications can be dealt with more quickly, with a more certain outcome and development is generally a better quality.

Before seeking pre-application advice

There are a number of information sources which can be accessed to provide guidance on whether permission is required, what needs to be submitted with an application and what planning policies may be applicable to a proposed development.

Our planning pages have general planning advice, including planning policy and guidance, along with a checklist of what needs to be submitted with a planning application. A request for pre-application advice should be made on the request form.

In addition, the Planning Portal provides general planning advice on national planning policy and guidance. The interactive guides are very useful in explaining what can normally be built as ‘permitted development’. In some instances ‘permitted development’ rights may have been removed from properties in the borough, so it would be wise to have the situation confirmed by writing to or e-mailing the planning department.

Most building work and some changes of use of buildings will also require Building Regulation approval. More information about making a building regulation application. Alternatively telephone: 01543 308157.

What advice will be provided?

  • Details of policies relevant to the proposal
  • Constraints and/or assets of the site. ie flood risk, or an area or building designated as being of historic importance
  • Guidance on aspects of the proposals that are likely to impact upon the determination of an application, including recommendations and where possible suggestions for improvements.
  • Comments on the preparation, content and presentation of an application.
  • Any further additional information that will be required to validate a formal planning application to facilitate its decision.

What will not be provided?

An undertaking cannot be given that a particular proposal will be granted planning permission. This is because pre-application advice is given without the benefit of other interested parties eg neighbouring residents, and has not benefitted from the same rigorous assessment as a formal application.

Any views or opinions expressed are given in good faith, based on existing planning policies and standards, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any future planning application which will be the subject of public consultation and may ultimately be decided by the Borough Council’s Planning Committee.

It should be noted that the formal planning process may identify issues relevant to the determination of the application that were not apparent at the pre-application stage. In addition there may be circumstances (eg the publication of new national policy) between the Borough Council giving pre-application advice and the submission of a subsequent application that impacts upon the advice given.

On complex issues be prepared to seek private professional help - our service is not intended to be an alternative to employing professional consultants.

What is required?

We aim to give a high standard and consistent level of advice and therefore, there must be a minimum level of information that we require from you. This level of detail will depend on the type and size of the proposed development.

A request for pre-application advice should be made on the request form. You should also provide drawings or illustrations that describe the proposal, including its size and layout; and the relationship to nearby buildings.

The more information you can give us, the more accurate and helpful our response can be - vague proposals may only receive vague advice. The key to the success of this service will be providing adequate information in advance. In relation to some complex proposals this could include the early provision of advanced drafts of technical assessments (eg retail impact assessments).

What will the service be?

  • In simple cases we aim to give a written response to your enquiry within 10 working days
  • For more complex proposals it is likely that we will require further time. In these instances we will acknowledge receipt of the enquiry within 5 working days and provide you with details of the case officer who has been assigned to deal with your enquiry. We aim to provide a written response in these cases within 6 weeks

The planning officer will normally carry out an unaccompanied site visit. This provides an opportunity to visualise the development in context and take into account any features on the site eg. levels and trees. (NB This is not intended as a substitute for detailed surveys that might be required at the application stage).

If, as a consequence of our initial assessment, we require further information we will contact you. We aim to ensure that information requirements at this stage are not onerous, but are adequate to make a reasoned judgement on the acceptability of the proposal.


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No charge will be made in relation to advice being sought regarding the following types of development:

  • Developments which would not require a planning application fee (eg. those requiring Listed Building Consent only).

  • Tree Preservation Orders

Contact:  Tel: 01827 709709; Email: