Pre-application/post-decision planning advice: Guidance

What is the difference between pre-application advice and a formal planning application?
 

A pre-application enquiry is an informal process, is not part of the formal planning application process, and will provide you with an indication as to whether your proposal is likely to be considered acceptable or not. The advice given does not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council, but is an informal opinion by a Planning Officer. The advice does not allow you to start work on your proposal, as planning permission is still required.

A formal planning application is a formal request for planning permission which goes through a statutory process, including neighbour notifications and consultations where necessary, at the end of which a formal decision is issued by the Local Planning Authority. If permission is granted you are able to commence development, subject to and in compliance with the approved plans and any conditions or legal agreements attached to that permission.

How much does the pre-application and post-decision planning advice service cost?

Details of the costs for pre-application advice can be found on the Icon for pdf fees [89.4KB] page.

Are there any exemptions to the fee?

No fee will be payable for the following:

  • A specific proposal to benefit a registered disabled person. (Proof will be required at the time of making the request).
     
  • Any form of development where the formal application itself would not be subject to a fee, such as applications for Listed Building Consent, Conservation Area Consent and Notifications concerning works to Trees.

Please note that requests for advice following the refusal; withdrawal; non-determination or approval of planning permission will be subject to the appropriate fee, and also where permitted development has been removed or restricted by an Article 4 Direction, or by a condition imposed on a planning permission, advice will be subject to the appropriate fee.

How long will it take to get advice?

If you have asked for a written reply only, the aim is to provide the written response for household enquiries within 15 working days and other enquiries within 30 working days of receipt of your valid enquiry (a completed application form, appropriate plans and fee).

If a meeting is requested and deemed necessary, the aim is to schedule and hold the meeting within 20 working days of receipt of your valid enquiry (a completed application form, appropriate plans and fee), a follow up meeting within a further month and provide a written response within 7 working days of the last meeting. The case officer will contact you to schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time.

What advice can I expect to receive from my pre-application/post-decision enquiry?

With non -householder enquiries, you will receive written advice about your planning proposal, the likely issues arising from it and the likely outcome at the formal planning application stage. With the written procedure the aim is to provide the advice in writing within 30 working days following receipt of a valid enquiry. If you have requested a meeting, then the aim is to hold this meeting within 20 working days following receipt of the valid enquiry.  There is the option of a follow up meeting within a month of the original meeting as part of the same query and this is followed by a response in writing within 7 working days of the last meeting.  

For householder enquiries such as an extension or a new garage, the aim is to provide a written response based on a pro-forma within 15 working days following receipt of a valid enquiry.  There will be an opportunity to submit a revised scheme within 10 days of the initial response under the same enquiry, and the aim is to provide further advice within 10 working days of the follow up scheme.

Any advice given is a Planning Officer's opinion based on the information you have supplied and is without prejudice to the right of the Local Planning Authority to determine as it finds appropriate any subsequent formal application. Therefore, positive feedback in pre-application discussions does not automatically mean that an application will be granted permission, however it will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

The advice given will depend on the complexity and nature of the proposal, but may include:

  • Details of the relevant Local Plan Policies such as ones relating to the Green Belt and Conservation Area
     
  • Acceptability of any proposed land uses
     
  • Comments on design, including built form, scale, impact on street scene
     
  • Comments on amenity, including which neighbouring buildings may be affected
     
  • Advice on other bodies to contact prior to the submission of a formal application
     
  • Details of the requirements for submitting a formal planning application

Will this advice guarantee my proposal gets permission?

Any advice given by a Council Officer for pre-application advice does not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council. Advice given is a Planning Officer's opinion based on the information you have supplied and is without prejudice to the right of the Local Planning Authority to determine as it finds appropriate any subsequent formal application. Therefore, positive feedback in pre-application discussions does not automatically mean that an application will be granted permission, however it will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Having undertaken pre-application enquiries, will I get a discount from the planning application fee?

No. The planning application fee only covers work carried out in relation to the formal planning application, and is a statutory requirement.

Can I get free planning advice?

Planning Aid offer free, independent, professional advice on planning issues. 

The Council has produced a Residential Extensions and Householder Development - Supplementary Planning Document: September 2013

Can I receive advice about whether or not my proposal requires planning permission?

No, the pre-application/post-decision service does not provide advice about whether a proposal requires planning permission.

See  Do I need planning permission? for more information.

Can I receive advice about whether or not a new or extended dropped kerb/vehicular access to my property requires planning permission?

No - see above. Please note that any proposal to create a new access or extend an existing access on a classified road requires planning permission.

What can I do myself prior to requesting pre-application/post-decision advice?

At present, you can visit the Council offices and carry out a site history search yourself. Records are held in the Council offices for most applications from 1948.

Planning applications post-1986 are available to view online. This system will also display any site constraints under Property Details, including whether the site is within a Conservation Area, the Green Belt or the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Constraints can also be viewed on the Council's interactive Proposals Map of the Adopted Local Plan or via Bucks Maps.  View details  relating to Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas.

View current development  plan policies

View Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs)

How do I apply for pre-application/post-decision advice? (Householder)

All requests for pre-application advice must be made in writing, using the pre-application form, and must be accompanied by the relevant fee and appropriate drawings/plans. Advice will be provided in respect of extensions to dwellings, outbuildings and other proposals such as fencing, provided planning permission is required for such proposals.

It is encouraged to submit as much information as possible, including:

  • Location Plan (1:1250 or 1:2500) with the application site outlined in red
     
  • Floor plans and elevations (1:50 or 1:100) indicating the proposed development and materials to be used.
     
  • Site plan at 1:200 or 1:500

The plans should include a north point, and if being submitted by email, a scale bar, and all development should be shown in relation to existing buildings that are to remain on site.

Is there any other information I can provide that may help you assess the proposal?

  • Photographs of the site
     
  • Details of any consultations already undertaken (for instance, Buckinghamshire County Council's Highway Authority, Chiltern District Council's Historic Buildings Officer and the Chiltern District Council's Tree and Landscape Officer)
     
  • Other examples of similar schemes in your immediate locality (please provide an address with any examples)

You are welcome to draw plans yourself, however it is essential that plans are drawn to scale (as detailed above) and are clear and accurate.

Please note this service can be used to obtain advice only on whether the proposed development is likely to be considered favourably, and cannot be used to advise whether planning permission is required. An enquiry that asks if the proposal requires planning permission, and, if so what are the issues and/or is planning permission likely to be forthcoming will be returned with advice to make an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for a proposed development. This will provide the formal determination of the Council in respect of the need for planning permission.

Planning Officers are not available for site visits to discuss what kind of extension could be attached to a dwelling. It is up to the applicant to assess and design their proposal.

How do I apply for pre-application/post-decision advice? (Non-Householder)

All requests for pre-application/post-decision advice must be made in writing, using Icon for pdf pre-application form [139.56KB] , and must be accompanied by the relevant Icon for pdf fees [89.4KB] and appropriate drawings/plans. The Council advises that the following information must be submitted as part of your enquiry:

  • Location Plan (1:1250 or 1:2500) with the application site outlined in red
     
  • Site layout plan (1:200 or 1:500)
     
  • Floor plans and elevations (1:50 or 1:100) indicating the proposed development and materials to be used.
     
  • Details of the existing and proposed uses of the site

The plans should include a north point, and if being submitted by email, a scale bar, and all development should be shown in relation to existing buildings that are to remain on site.

The only exception to the above requirement is where:

1. The request involves a change of use of land or a building, and does not involve any alterations to an existing building or the erection of any new buildings or structures, and

2. If the request is an 'outline proposal' where only the principle of development is sought.

For the two exceptions above, it will only be necessary to submit a location plan with the  Icon for pdf pre-application form [139.56KB] and Icon for pdf fees [89.4KB]

Is there any other information I can provide that may help you assess the proposal?

  • For larger schemes, you are advised to have regard to the Council's adopted Statement of Community Involvement.
     
  • Investigate the site history to see whether similar proposals have been formally determined.
     
  • Check the designation of the site on the Interactive Policies Map
     
  • Submit photographs of the site
     
  • Details of any consultations already undertaken (for instance, Buckinghamshire County Council's Highway Authority, Chiltern District Council's Historic Buildings Officer and the Chiltern District Council's Tree and Landscape Officer)
     
  • Submit any other plans that might be of use, for instance site survey, tree survey

Planning Officers are not available for site visits to discuss what could be built on a piece of land, or what kind of extension could be put onto a building/dwelling. It is up to the applicant to assess and design their proposal.

Please note this service can be used to obtain advice only on whether the proposed development is likely to be considered favourably, and cannot be used to advise whether planning permission is required.

You may draw plans yourself, however it is essential that plans are drawn to scale (1:50 or 1:100) and are clear and accurate.

Can I draw the plans myself?

Yes, however, it is essential that plans are drawn to scale are clear and accurate. You should also be aware that when submitting a planning application, any submitted plans need to meet the national validation requirements. When drawing plans, consideration of building regulations is required.

What does the pre-application/post-decision service not provide?

You will not be provided with an answer as to whether a proposed scheme requires planning permission.

The service and advice provided does not constitute the formal decision of the Council, rather it is informal Planning Officer advice regarding your particular proposal.

Planning Officers are not available for site visits to discuss what could be built on a piece of land, or what kind of extension could be put onto a building/dwelling. It is up to the applicant to assess and design their proposal.

The Council cannot comment in detail, but will provide general advice on the suitability of Planning Statements that are required to support a case for very special circumstances, to support the loss of a community facility or to support a planning application that is contrary to policy.  A full assessment can only be made during the course of a planning application when all consultation and representations have been received as part of the application.

Can I have a meeting as part of the pre-application/post-decision process?

You can request a meeting at the start of the process by ticking the relevant box on the Pre-application/Post-Decision advice application form. At this stage it is only necessary to submit a fee for a written response. Not all enquiries justify a meeting and these will be dealt with via written correspondence only. The Development Control Manager, or the Principal Planning Officer - Enforcement, will determine whether or not a meeting is necessary. Where the Development Control Manager/Principal Planning Officer- Enforcement determines that a meeting is not essential, a full written response will be sent. If it is agreed to hold a meeting a letter will be sent out providing confirmation of this and also requesting the additional fee required for a meeting. The case officer will contact you to arrange the meeting at a mutually convenient time. The additional fee for the meeting must be paid at least 5 Working Days before the meeting is scheduled to take place, otherwise the meeting will not take place. If the additional fee is not received or the meeting is not held as scheduled then the query will be dealt with in writing only.

I have paid for a written response. Can I have a meeting?

No, at the present time it will not be possible to request a meeting once a request solely for a written response has been received.

Can I contact the case officer by telephone prior to receiving my written response?

No, a telephone response is not appropriate for pre-application enquiries. The aim of the Council is to provide you with a written response to your enquiry in the timescales set out above. Applicants are advised that case officers will not enter into any discussions during the pre-application/post-decision process, apart from during the course of any meetings.

If any additional information is required, or a meeting is to be scheduled, the case officer will contact you.

What happens to my pre-application/post-decision enquiry?

Once the request for pre-application advice has been received, there will be a checking process to ensure all requested information has been submitted. Once all information has been received, including the fee, the enquiry will be validated and allocated to a case officer. An acknowledgement letter will be sent to you by post or email, with details of the case officer who will deal with your enquiry and the target date to respond in writing. The case officer will then process your request and provide you with a written response, or a meeting(s) and a written response, as appropriate. If a meeting has been agreed then the acknowledgement letter will also include details of the additional fee required for the meeting. Following this the case officer will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time for the meeting.

What happens after I have received my written response?

Once you have received your response, it is up to you to look at the advice you have been given and decide whether further revisions are required to be made to your plans, or if you wish to continue with the proposal in its current form.

You can ask for further informal advice on a revised scheme for householder enquiries provided the Council are in receipt of the revised plans within 10 days of the initial written response being sent out, and a follow up meeting can be arranged following receipt of a revised scheme.  However, please be aware that a further fee is payable for any other advice or circumstances, and it will also be necessary to complete the enquiry form and submit the appropriate plans.

You can proceed with a planning application. Details of this process, including application forms, information requirements and fee requirements, are online

If you do not wish to proceed with your proposed scheme, there is no requirement to do so.

If I want follow-up advice, will I be charged?

Yes, a charge is payable per request received by the Council for either a written response or a meeting.

Can I carry out pre-application advice following a refusal of planning application?

Yes. Your planning decision notice will contain details of the reason(s) your planning application was refused. Taking the reason(s) into account, you may wish to prepare a revised proposal for comment prior to submitting a further planning application. To do so you will need to submit a completed pre-application advice form together with the appropriate fee and plans.

How do I request pre-application advice with regard to alterations to a Listed Building or an application for works to trees?

Providing any subsequent application would not be subject to a fee, you are able to apply for pre-application advice without paying a fee. This advice should be requested by way of a letter, and obviously the more information submitted at the time of such an enquiry will help you to obtain a more comprehensive response. If your proposal affects a tree and/or a Listed Building and also requires planning permission, then it will be necessary to submit a pre-application/post decision enquiry form together with the necessary fee and appropriate plans.

Can I submit a request for pre-application/post-decision advice electronically?

Yes, but please note that the request will not be validated until all details including the relevant fee have been received by the Council.

How can I pay?

You must pay at the time of submitting your enquiry wherever possible. You can pay by cheque (payable to Chiltern District Council) when submitting the information by post, over the telephone (01494 732950) by debit/credit card or you can pay in person at the Council Offices, between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday - Thursday, and between 9:00am and 4:30pm Friday.

If the proposed scheme is already under construction, can I apply for pre-application/post decision advice?

Yes, whilst you are still able to apply for pre-application/post decision advice, this advice does not constitute a formal decision of the Council and cannot be used to authorise any development which does not benefit from planning permission. The process and cost is the same as that where development has not started.