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Pre-application advice service in detail

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What will the service be?

All pre-application advice for which there is a charge will be given in writing.

Where it is appropriate, the officer will arrange to meet the person making the request for pre-application advice (this may be the prospective applicant or their appointed agent). The meeting may be at our offices or on site.

In each case we will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the enquiry and allocate it to a named case officer of seniority proportionate to the scale and nature of the development proposed.
  • If insufficient information has been provided, notify you and request more detail; if the additional information is not provided we may not be able to proceed with the request or we will deal with it solely on the basis of the information provided; if you withdraw the request for pre-application advice, having paid the appropriate fee, we will not normally refund the fee.
  • If a meeting is necessary, contact you to confirm which officers will to attend and to make arrangements for the meeting. Attendance of other Authority officers will be at the discretion of the case officer. For particularly significant proposals a "Development team" of appropriate officers may be brought together.
  • When no meeting is needed, we aim to provide you with written advice within 15 working days of receiving your request.
  • Once a meeting has taken place, provide you with written advice within 10 working days of the meeting or within an alternative timescale as may be agreed at the meeting.
  • Written advice will take the form of an email, letter or report, depending on the scale and complexity of the proposal. We will normally respond to you by the same method that you contacted us.
  • Where possible, the officer who deals with your pre-application advice will be the case officer on the subsequent planning application. This will assist consistency of advice and the efficient handling of the submitted application if the pre-application advice has been followed.

Any planning application made following receipt of pre-application advice should therefore include a copy of or provide a clear reference to the pre-application advice you have received.

Whilst we will try to meet the timescales set out above, there may be occasions when circumstances prevent this. If this should occur we will update you with a revised target date.

The “Development team” approach will be adopted where this is appropriate, usually for larger more complex cases which raise a number of issues. This will provide a more integrated response and will bring together a number of professionals involved in Development Management. This can include planning policy officers, historic building officers, landscape architects, ecologists, and archaeologists at the Authority.

We also try to involve other organisations where this is appropriate, for example the local Highway Authority or the Environment Agency.

We don't have any Building Control responsibilities, so we will not provide any advice or input on building regulations; we recommend that you contact your local authority for any advice on building regulations, particularly where this may have an impact on the design of your proposal.

Pre-Application Advice Charges

We have discretionary powers in the Local Government Act 2003 to recover some of the costs incurred before an application is submitted. All the costs are listed in the Fee Schedule.

What are the benefits?

The pre-app service will benefit you as a customer and allow us to offer a better service because we can:

  • identify and resolve any issues with you before you make a formal application;
  • advise against a planning application being made if it is clearly expected to fail;
  • reduce the number of unsuccessful planning applications.

This service will also help to:

  • save time and money for all parties involved;
  • avoid the expense and delay in making changes to formal applications;
  • reduce delays by explaining what you have to submit.

Will my application be approved?

The pre-application advice that we provide is not legally binding as it does not take into account the views of neighbours, local councils and other public bodies, who we have a statutory requirement to consult.

Final decisions can only be made once an application has been formally submitted and all interested parties have been consulted. Our officers cannot give any guarantees about a decision that will be made on your application.

Confidentiality

As a matter of course, requests for pre-application advice will not automatically be treated on a confidential basis. Whilst we will not seek to publicise requests for pre-application advice, there may be occasions when this information is shared with others (which could include councillors and/or third parties).

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires us to make certain documents available to members of the public, if requested.

Pre-application advice may only be treated as confidential if there are clear demonstrable issues of commercial sensitivity or other significant reasons why this information may not be disclosed and a public interest test may be applied. Any enquiry in this category should be clearly marked as confidential giving reasons.

If a planning application is made as a result of pre-application advice, all documentation may be publicly available, as they will form background papers to the application.

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