Benefits of using the pre-application service

It will help you identify at an early stage:

  • any ‘show stopping’ issues
  • ways to gather relevant third-party views, to consider them in developing your proposals
  • any key issues and concerns that you will need to address
  • the information you will need to submit with your application

We can provide you with advice and information on:

  • the relevant policies against which your proposal will be assessed
  • who to engage with, including in the local community, as you develop your proposal
  • the merits of the development proposed, including providing an overall assessment of the chances of the likelihood of your proposal receiving officers’ support and
  • the processes involved

Pre-application advice will help you:

  • overcome problems early
  • avoid unnecessary work, effort, and costs
  • speed up the application process and improve your chances of a positive outcome

How to apply for pre-application planning advice

Appendices 1 and 2 below set out the types of development for which fees are charged for pre-application advice, the level of service which we can provide, and the scale of fees.

To request pre-application advice, you need to complete and submit a request form for pre-application planning advice, together with the appropriate fee.

You will need to request one of the following options for either Planning or Listed Building advice:

  1. a written response
  2. a meeting or verbal advice
  3. a meeting and written response

We reserve the right to decline holding meetings whether at the office or on site, where officers consider this to be unnecessary and/or inappropriate.

When completed return to Fees can be paid by credit or with debit card over the phone on 01865 249811. To pay via BACS please visit our ways to make a payment page.

What you need to provide with your application

The form asks for some basic questions about the property, what you are hoping to achieve and a detailed description of the proposal. In addition, please provide as much additional information as possible in the form of sketch plans, scaled drawings and photographs as this will help the case officer to provide an appropriate and informed response.


Once we receive your formal request for a meeting and all the relevant/necessary information, the case officer will normally seek to arrange a meeting to take place within three weeks, although this may not always be possible.

Meetings will usually be held at the Council offices or through an online platform. A specific site visit has been requested on the application form under specialist advice (at an additional cost, see Appendix 3). Meetings should not normally last more than 2 hours for large-scale proposals, 90 minutes for medium-scale proposals and 1 hour for small-scale proposals.

The nature of the discussion would depend on the detail and relevance of the information you have supplied in advance. You will have the chance to explain your proposal to the officer(s). If they consider your proposal to be a “non-starter,” i.e., not acceptable in principle, they will advise you to do so, outlining the main reasons.

Where there is merit to pursue your proposal further, the officer(s) will provide an initial verbal response, identifying the key issues and relevant policies, including any issues that may have been raised by other relevant specialist officers at this initial stage. The officer(s) will mention any concerns they may have about the proposals at this stage. If appropriate, they may suggest amendments to overcome them.

The officer(s) will also advise on:

  • any publicity and consultation that you would ideally undertake at this stage, seeking views of Neighbours and third parties, so that these can be considered in formulating your application submission.
  • when and how to keep local Members informed on larger/sensitive schemes.
  • any additional reports/impact studies, which you may need to prepare
  • the involvement of specialist professionals that you need in working up your proposals.
  • the need and appropriateness of any further pre-application meetings and officer(s) written response and agree a timetable.

Written responses

We will normally seek to prepare our written response within two weeks of the initial meeting, but we may have to agree to a longer response period, depending on the complexity of the case and comments sought from specialist officers and other parties.

Where you have requested only written advice, we shall seek to assess your proposal and respond to you within five weeks of receiving all the relevant information and fee. However, where specialist input is required and necessary, this may take longer.

The officer’s written response will seek to set out:

  • the relevant policies, planning history and a summary of any relevant third part of consultee comments that may have been received;
  • the relevant issues, officers’ concerns, and an overall summary assessment of your proposal;
  • If appropriate, the amendments and publicity that you should ideally carry out prior to the submission of an application.
  • an indication of the information and accompanying reports/statements that you will need to include with your submission, to asset you with preparing a valid planning application. This would be based on the published list of validation criteria.

The officer’s written response will be checked and cleared by another senior level officer before it is sent out.

The related application for planning permission and listed building consent

All pre-application advice is informal officer advice, provided on a without prejudice basis and cannot bind the Council’s decision on a related planning or listed building application in any way. Issues may arise during the application stage due to (additional) consultation, site visits or other information that may become known. Pre-application advice does not guarantee a positive outcome of your formal application(s). This service provides you with information to help you prepare an application that is more likely to succeed. We make every effort to provide accurate information based on the information you provide. Each proposal is considered on its own merits.

We will continue encouraging pre-application discussions; assessing and determining applications based on the information provided at validation stage. We will not normally hold meetings with applicants during the application stage and any amendments submitted during the application stage would normally only be accepted if they do not delay the decision beyond the target date. The above would not apply to major applications subject to planning performance agreements (PPAs) or any application subject to bespoke extensions of time.

Confidentiality issues and Freedom of Information

Customers normally expect the details of pre-application discussions to be confidential, and officers aim to provide advice on this basis, and it is not published on the Council’s website. However, under the Freedom of information Act and/or the Environmental Information regulations, third parties can ask to see pre-application documentation, and the Council must decide if information is exempt from disclosure. To assist the Council in dealing with such requests, applicants/agents are encouraged to submit in writing the specific reasons why in their view documentation relating to their pre-application discussions should remain confidential and not be disclosed to third parties.

Appendix 1: Size of Development Thresholds for fee categories

For the purposes of calculating the appropriate fee, proposals fall into one of the following four categories, which correspond to the following size thresholds:

  1. Large scale proposals: over 25 residential units, or over 2000m2 of floor space, or over 1ha of site area, or over 50 student rooms
  2. Medium scale proposals: between 6 & 25 residential units, or 500m2 & 2000m2 of floor space, or 0.2 & 1ha of site area, or 10 & 50 student rooms
  3. Small Scale proposals: less than 5 residential units, or less than 500m2 of floor space, or less than 0.2ha of site area, or less than 10 student  rooms; also proposals for operational works not creating new floor space such as  shop fronts, general commercial advertising not relating to its premises (such  as poster panels) and telecommunications proposals that would  require either a planning  or a prior approval application
  4. Householders: householder extensions and alterations that need permission (either to houses or individual flats) but this does not apply to flat conversions Mixed development proposals are treated according to their cumulative size

Mixed development proposals are treated according to their cumulative size.

Appendix 2 - Fee Schedule

Table showing Fee Schedule for Pre-Application Advice Service for Planning and Listed Buildings from 1 April 2024

Size of proposal



Fee incl. Vat (20%)

Large Scale





Written response




Meeting & written response



Medium Scale





Written response




Meeting & written response



Small scale





Written response




Meeting & written response



Householder developments





Written response




Meeting & written response



Listed buildings non-householder





Written response




Meeting & written response



Listed buildings - householder





Written response




Meeting & written response



If your planning pre-application request requires the involvement and advice of other specialist officers of the City Council (eg. Heritage, design, planning policy, biodiversity, trees, landscaping, archaeology, land contamination, noise, air quality, sustainability, viability etc.), this will be charged as additional to the flat rate fees set out in the above schedule, at the hourly rate of £124.15/hour per specialist officer (inclusive of VAT). Where you require a site meeting, this will incur an additional cost at the rate of £124.15/hour (inclusive of VAT).

External consultees and other specialists not part of the City Council (eg. County Highways, Environment Agency, etc) may also need to be involved in providing pre- application advice. This may be subject to additional fees and charges payable directly to them.

Where applicants are pursuing one or more proposals, which involve a protracted series of multiple meetings and/or multiple written pieces of advice, the Council may negotiate bespoke rates or “season tickets”, as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis.

In respect of large, complex development proposals with prolonged planned timescales the Council will negotiate Planning Performance Agreements with bespoke resourcing and fees on a case by case basis, covering all stages of the project from pre-application through to application and post-application conditions compliance.

Terms and conditions

Requests for pre-application advice service will not be considered until full payment has been received and the information requested has been provided.

Applicants will be informed of any additional charges before they are incurred and will be expected to have paid the appropriate fees before the service is provided.

Any follow-up request for advice will incur a further fee.

Subsequent variation to the proposed scheme will be treated as a new enquiry and subject to additional charges.

Similarly, any additional enquiries by the same applicant at the same property, or at other properties will be treated as a new enquiry and subject to a charge(s).

It is at the Council's discretion to identify the case officer responsible for dealing with each request for pre-application advice. The Council will make every effort to allocate an officer of appropriate seniority and experience to each case. Wherever possible, the same officer will deal with any subsequent application for planning permission or listed building consent.

If a meeting is cancelled by the applicant, charges may be made for any pre-meeting enquiries or other investigations that Council officers may have carried out.

Fees can only be refunded if paid in respect of either a request where the Council declines to provide advice or where more than the correct fee has been paid.

Enquiries that require both planning and listed building pre-application advice will be charged both fees. Similarly, if the proposal raises issues that need to be addressed by specialists, additional fees will be charged on an hourly rate basis as set out in Appendix 2.

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