When it comes to more complex proposals, we can, on your behalf, engage with the Local Authority at an early stage. Seeking pre-planning application advice will help overcome potential problems with your application and make sure you tick all the correct boxes. Engaging with Council’s Planning Departments from the onset is encouraged by the Government and could significantly improve the quality and success of planning applications. This is supported by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraphs 39-46.
Benefits of this process are:
Pre-application advice can be in the form of written advice or a meeting (followed by written advice). It all really depends on the scale of the proposal. When it comes to more complex major proposals, Local Authorities might choose only to provide this pre-application advice service at meetings. Members of the public can make requests to see the recorded information Local Authorities hold on pre-application matters. This is because the planning advice service is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations.
Local Authorities aim to provide accurate and objective planning advice. They will research the history of the site, do a site visit if required, provide information about relevant planning policies and standards and arrange to attend a meeting with the applicant, if needed. Local Authorities will also look at the need for further investigations or key groups that need to be spoken to. It will enable applicants and consultants to better understand whether to continue with a planning application or not.
The following types of information should normally be provided; however, Local Authorities might ask for any other information necessary to provide a comprehensive response:
Fees for providing pre-planning application advice differs and are set by Local Authorities. It is also dependent on the type of development. The fee includes costs from other council services for their input including external consultees such as the Environment Agency.
In terms of time scales, smaller proposals can take 20-28 days to get a response whereas larger scale proposals can take much longer. All pre-planning advice is on an informal basis and assessed in accordance with development plan policies and national policy. It is therefore important to remember that this planning advice service will allow you to better understand whether to continue with a planning application or not - it is not an approval service.