Pre-application advice - non householders

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.

There is a cost for non-householder pre-application advice. The costs are at the bottom of this page.

Before seeking pre-application advice

Before seeking pre-application advice there are a number of sources of information that can 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 website has lots of general planning advice including planning policy and guidance and a checklist of what needs to be submitted with a planning application. In addition, the Planning Portal provides general planning advice on national planning policy.

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. Please visit the website or telephone: 01543 308157

What advice will be provided?

  • Details of policies relevant to the proposal.
  • Relevant planning history.
  • 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.
  • Potential mitigation measures that could be incorporated into a scheme.
  • An indication of whether a planning obligation under Section 106 of the Planning Act would be required and the subjects it would need to cover.
  • Advice on groups or organisations you may wish to consult with as part of any recommended wider pre-application consultation.
  • Any further additional information that will be required to validate a formal planning application to facilitate its decision.
  • A guide to the timescales within which a planning application will be determined taking into account government targets eg 8 and 13 weeks, and in exceptional cases an indication of whether a planning performance agreement would be required.

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 e.g. 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.

For more complex proposals it may be necessary to include details of the site or building as it exists. This could include a plan showing features such as watercourses, site levels and the location and canopy spread of trees.

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.
  • When we consider it necessary we will involve people from other agencies such as the highway authority, the Environmental Health Service or the Environment Agency. This is designed to ensure that our response takes into consideration all relevant matters and provides a comprehensive view of the acceptability of the proposal. (NB consultees may levy their own charges)
  • 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.
  • For complex developments the case officer may request a meeting so that you can explain your proposals in detail and then he can provide feedback. The Borough Council will facilitate one 1 hour meeting, at no cost, and up to a maximum of 3 additional meetings. Invitations will be sent to other interested parties, eg highway authority, where appropriate.
  • All written advice relating to non household development will be reviewed by the Development Control Manager prior to despatch.


In order that the council can provide a service that is consistent and to a high standard, the discretionary powers in the Local Government Act 2003 will be used to recover some of the costs incurred before an application is submitted. The Borough Council believe that this cost should be recovered directly and not fall as a general cost to the council tax payer.

No charge will be made in relation to pre-application 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).
  • Advertisements
  • Tree Preservation Orders

Charges would be applicable to all other developments and a simple fee structure will be used to reflect the likely time input and number of staff involved. The three broad categories of development are as follows:

  •  Large scale major (50 plus dwellings or 5000 square metres plus commercial where this has been identified, otherwise this relates to site areas greater than 2ha (residential) or greater than 5 ha (non-residential)
  • Medium scale major (30 - 49 plus dwellings or 3000 – 4999 square metres plus commercial where this has been identified, otherwise this relates to site areas greater than 1ha  but less than 2 ha (residential) or greater than 2 ha but less than 5 ha (non-residential)
  • Small scale major (10 - 29 Dwellings or 1000 – 2999 square metres commercial where this has been identified, otherwise this relates to site areas greater than 0.5ha but less than 1 ha (residential) or greater than 1 ha but less than 2 ha (non-residential)
  • Minor (1-9 Dwellings or 0 – 999 square metres commercial where this has been identified, otherwise this relates to site areas no more than 0.5ha (residential) or 1 ha (non-residential) and changes of use).
  •  House extensions –any domestic extension, but excluding residential annex which will be treated as minor developments

Pre-application guidance will not be provided until payment has been received.

The charges that will be applied are as follows:


Large scale major

Medium scale major

Small scale major









Contact: Tel: 01827 709709 Email: