Planning pre-application advice

What is pre-application advice?  
What are the benefits of pre-application advice?
What services are provided?
How long does it take?
How much does it cost?
How do I apply?
What information should I supply?

What is pre-application advice?

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

Pre-application advice is provided by planning officers employed by the council, which outlines 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.

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 obtain planning permission and decisions are made significantly faster.

What are the benefits of pre-application advice?

  • Getting advice before you make an application can save you time and money.
  • You will normally get a quicker decision once the application is submitted.
  • There are likely to be fewer conditions on any permission.

It is important to note that getting our advice, and following it, does not guarantee that you will get planning permission. Sometimes issues, particularly with neighbouring properties and ownership can result in additional issues. However, it will mean that you have the best possible opportunity to negotiate a positive outcome.

Before applying for pre-application advice:

  • Take time to look at applications that we have approved or refused around your property. You can do this by searching planning records by street name or postcode.
  • Look at planning policies in the Development Management Local Plan.
  • Think about who might be affected by what you want to do and talk to them about your plans; and
  • Decide exactly what information you want to get from us. This will determine what service you choose.

Decide what level of advice you want:

We provide two levels of advice depending on the degree of detail or information available. In some particularly complex cases you might choose to apply for pre-application advice a number of times.

Level 1 advice

This is written advice you can request for:

  • Proposed developments ‘in principle’ only. For example, when you are considering the purchase of a house or development site, and want to know whether particular types of development are considered acceptable, and what constraints the Local Planning Authority might seek to impose. To apply for this level of advice all you will need to supply is the address and a written outline of your proposal. 
  • Where you have a specific proposal in mind for a site. You should provide some plans.  These do not necessarily need to be to an architectural standard, the better the quality of information you provide as part of your application, the better quality of advice the planning department will be able to provide.

Level 2 advice

This is a meeting with a planning officer who can:

  • discuss your proposals with you, provide advice, and provide a written summary of the advice given after the meeting.
  • give advice about schemes where matters are not straight-forward or whether the scheme you are proposing is likely to be contentious.

You will need to have provided drawings (at least sketches) with your initial application to enable the officer to assess your proposals in advance.

How long does it take?

For extensions and alterations to homes, and small scale proposals, indicated in Table 1; the council will aim to respond to applications for level 1 advice within 10 working days and level 2 advice within 20 working days.

For residential schemes (including change of use, houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), care homes etc.), indicated in Table 2 and non – residential schemes indicated in Table 3; the council will aim to respond to applications for level 1 advice within 20 working days and level 2 advice within 40 working days.

Sometimes it may be necessary to obtain the advice of other departments within the council and external consultees, which can take time depending on their commitments. Where we need more time, we will contact you and confirm our intended timescales to respond.

The follow up service is available after you have received your initial pre-application advice where more information is needed for your scheme to progress. 

An officer check service is available to customers prior to applying for permission who want to ensure they have followed advice and have all the relevant documentation. 

How much does it cost?

Table 1 - extensions and alterations to homes, and small scale proposals

  Level 1:    Level 2:    
  Letter Follow up letter      Meeting  Follow up meeting    Officer check
Extensions and alterations to houses and flats not including basements £327 £273 £437 £382 £109
Extensions and alterations to houses and flats including basements £655 £491 £764 £600 £109
Local community groups £273 £218 £382 £327 £109
Advertisements £382 £327 £437 £382 Not applicable
Telecommunications £382 £327 £437 £382 Not applicable
Details required by condition £327 £273 £437 £382 Not applicable
Internal alterations to listed buildings were planning permission is not required £327 £273 £437 £382 £109

Please note that for applications containing a mixture of multiple and single dwellings, the fee shall be twice the amount for that of a single dwelling and a single dwelling fee will also be required e.g. 3 adjoining dwellings and 1 separate dwelling for level 1 advice would be 2 x £327 = £654.00 and 1 x £327 totalling £981.00

Table 2 - residential schemes (including change of use, houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), care homes etc.)

  Level 1:          Level 2:           
  Letter Follow up letter    Meeting Follow up meeting  Officer check
1 – 4 Units £751 £643 £965 £858 £214
5 – 9 Units £1930 £1608 £2144 £1930 £214
10 – 49 Units £3217 £2573 £3753 £3217 £429
50 – 199 Units £5361 £4289 £5897 £4825 £429
200 Units and over £8042 £5897 £8578 £6433


Please note that for pre-applications containing a mixture of units for residential and non-residential, the fee shall be the residential fee plus 50% of the non-residential fee.

Table- 3 - non-residential schemes (including changes of use, officers, hotels, industry, retail etc.)

  Level 1:         Level 2:         
  Letter Follow up letter  Meeting Follow up meeting Officer check
No new floorspace – 100m² £546 £437 £764 £546 £109
100 - 499m² floorspace £819 £491 £873 £600 £218
500 - 999m² floorspace £2292 £1637 £2401 £1746 £218
1,000 – 4,999m² floorspace £3002 £2456 £3275 £2729 £327
5,000 – 9,999m² floorspace £5185 £4639 £5458 £4912 £437
10,000m² and over £8732 £6004 £9278 £8187 £546

*All charges in tables 1,2 and 3 are inclusive of VAT.

There may be occasions where the nature of your development is such that it requires additional resourcing from officers to provide detailed advice on many aspects. In such cases, officers will discuss with you what services you need after you have made your initial application, and what the additional cost implications are likely to be. Additional services will be charged on a time charge basis.  This may also be advisable for customers who have already received planning permission but are looking to make changes to an agreed proposal. 

For large scale regeneration meetings a flat rate fee of £3,000 (including VAT) will be applied irrespective of the number of officers attending each meeting.  

Before additional costs are incurred, you will be asked to provide an undertaking to meet the costs. A copy of the undertaking form can be downloaded from here: Unilateral undertaking (pdf 40KB).

The hourly rates for different officers are charged on the following basis:

  Hourly Rate
Director £350
Head of service £250
Team leader £200
Deputy team leader £175
Principal planning officer £165
Planning officer £150
Technician £80
Highways officer £150
Pollution officer £150
Housing officer £150

All hourly rate work is quoted exclusive of VAT.

How do I apply for pre-application advice?

What happens when it goes wrong?

We aim to provide you the best possible service, within the scheme that we provide. If you feel that you have not received the service that you have paid for, please do tell us so that we can review the case and where possible put it right. In the first instance please do this by emailing us at you can also access the council’s complaints system.

Freedom of Information

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 we may receive a request to disclose pre-application advice requests and the advice we have provided. If you require your requests to be confidential, please advise us in writing of the reasons valid under the Act for this at the time of your request. We will not respond at the time of your request but will take it into account when deciding whether to release information. More information about Freedom of Information can be found at GOV.UK

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