Mini-guide to the pre-application process.

Gaining planning approval requires a strategic approach. Some sites or buildings are more problematic than others, and all projects require careful consideration in relation to design and planning policy. 

The pre-application submission is a way to gain the input of the planning officer prior to submitting your planning application. You can then incorporate any comments or resolve any potential issues, and arrange any of the requested surveys prior to submitting your full application. The majority of Local Authority Planning departments offer a pre-application service, with only a few exceptions.

The majority of our projects have been through a pre-application process to gain approval. We do not submit pre-applications for every project, for example a number of our smaller projects (extensions) did not require a pre-application. However we still submitted a pre-application for an extension if it was located within a sensitive area e.g (AONB), or if the site was problematic without a precedent. 

Firstly, Submit a Pre-Application

Some clients contact the planning department directly either by telephoning or visiting the planning department prior to engaging an architect / agent to gain advice on their scheme. However they always say that they did not get the right information, or they were told that they were not able to speak to a planning officer at this time, or they need to submit a pre-application. Most Local Authorities will not discuss a scheme unless you submit a pre-application.

It is advised that you engage an agent to submit your pre-application as they are experienced in producing the required information. Each Local Authority has a different method of dealing with pre-applications, from the submission, to the fee and the timescale for a response. In general you can expect a written response within 6 weeks. There is also the option on most pre-applications to arrange a meeting with the planning officer. This would always be advised as any issues can be discussed / further explained on-site face-to-face. Some planning officers also allow you to incorporate their comments and re-send your scheme to them so they can comment again prior to the full planning submission.

The fee for the submission varies between different Local Authorities and reflects the scale of the project. Each Local Authority includes a list of fees on their website however to give an example Pendle Borough Council’s charges include £80 for Householder advice, £500 for a major development.

During your full planning submission, the planning officer will consult with a number of statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency, LCC Highways etc. If your scheme is making changes to access or parking arrangements it is advisable to gain pre-application advice prior to making the submission.

In addition to gaining pre-application advice from your planning department who will ultimately make the decision to approve or refuse, Lancashire County Council offer a Highways pre-application advice service for a fee of £150. This will allow you to incorporate any requested changes to the design without causing delays within the full planning 8 week decision period. 

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