Pre-application Advice for Major Developments: Guidance for Developers

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1 Pre-application Advice for Major Developments: Guidance for Developers Introduction The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the efficient handling of development proposals in their Scottish Planning Policy, and Perth and Kinross Council is committed to providing an excellent level of service to customers who submit major planning applications. Large and complex planning applications can sometimes take a long time to go through the planning process and this Council is keen to make the process as efficient as possible. What is a major planning application? Major applications are defined in the Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Developments) (Scotland) (Regulations) It is advisable for developers to seek advice from a planning officer in development management at an early stage to confirm whether or not a proposal falls within the definition. This is because major applications are subject to a specific process before they can be determined. Details of and guidance on major developments are available from: The Pre-Application Process Well managed pre-application discussions can help reduce the time taken to deal with a subsequent planning application. Identification of the relevant planning issues at an early stage will help speed up the process for both developers and the Council. Major planning applications often relate to developments which will lead to significant economic investment in the Perth and Kinross area, whilst improving the environment and facilities on offer to their residents. Equally, such applications can be contentious and generate significant public interest. An efficient, effective and consistent approach to the major applications process is therefore required. Planning officers, consultees, councillors and the public often have to deal with proposals which could have been better presented. The resulting proposals stand a better chance of being favourably considered and being more quickly determined if they are the subject of pre-application discussion. Planning legislation requires proposals for a major development to be the subject of pre-application consultation with the community. This should be at a

2 level which is proportionate to the nature and scale of the proposal and its likely impact. It is the developer s responsibility to undertake this consultation. The exact format of the consultation required will vary depending on the nature and scale of the development. This part of the process requires the submission of a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) a minimum of 12 weeks before the major application can be submitted. A new process will be introduced from September 2014 whereby all PANs are reported to the Council s Development Management Committee to enable councillors to highlight key issues for the consideration of prospective applicants, over and above those identified by officers. In parallel with the above statutory PAC procedure, developers are encouraged to undertake pre-application discussion with the Councils planning officers. Although the process will be slightly different for each Council, this will help to identify the supporting information required for the application and the main planning issues raised by the proposal. It is important that all parties are made clear about issues and requirements. The process will also provide an indication as to the likelihood of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) being required and give clear guidance on the associated screening and scoping processes. The potential need for planning gain and any associated legal agreement should be raised at this stage. Examples of information which could be required in support of the application include: Details of affordable housing provision Landscape impact assessment Tree survey and action plan Ecology survey and biodiversity proposals Archaeology assessment Transport assessment Drainage impact assessment Retail Impact Study incorporating a sequential test Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS) Flood Risk Assessment Noise assessment Design and Access Statements (statutory requirement for most major applications) If you are seeking pre-application advice in respect of a major development, face-to-face advice is available by making a pre-application meeting request using our published form. By using this service you can be assured a joined up approach will be taken to your application and you will receive advice on: The relevant policy framework

3 The key constraints associated with the proposed development. Design Issues Sustainability Amenity considerations Roads and transport issues Public consultation arrangements Engagement with consultees Developer contributions Required supporting information The aim of the process is for there to be constructive pre-application discussions between the Council, developers, statutory agencies and other key consultees. It is important that any meetings are accurately minuted. The nominated person responsible for taking and distributing minutes should therefore be agreed by all parties from the outset. Processing Agreements The Council wants to encourage the use of processing agreements in association with planning applications for major developments to provide greater clarity about the timescales and processes that will take place before a determination is reached on the proposals. Processing agreements should be discussed and signed as early as possible in the process. It is important that developers are well informed at an early stage about the level of information required to support an application, which the Council will ensure is reasonable and proportionate. A processing agreement does not guarantee the grant of planning permission, but should be based on a shared understanding about the key stages in the process. Processing agreements should result in more open, positive working relationships between developers, planning authorities and consultees. Details of the processing agreement will be drawn up between the case officer and the developer. Normally the planning authority will draw up the agreement but, if agreed, the developer may do this. The format should always be as concise, clear and simple. The components of a processing agreement will vary depending on the circumstances but are likely to include: The roles and responsibilities of designated personnel Content of the application Required supporting information Decision-making framework (including if necessary any EIA framework) Project plan and key milestones A framework for meetings

4 Timescales. More information on processing agreements, including a template, can be found on the Council s website at: It is important to note that this pre-application discussion process is separate from the statutory requirement for the developer to undertake pre-application consultation (PAC) with communities. Further guidance on PAC is available from: Disclaimer Advice given by our officers does not constitute a formal decision of the Council with regards to any planning application and, cannot be held to bind the Council in its validation or formal determination of a subsequent application. If an application is submitted which fails to take on board advice given by our officers, we may refuse it without further discussion with the applicant or their agent. Freedom of Information There is a possibility that, under the Freedom of Information Act, we will be asked to provide information regarding inquiries for pre-application advice and copies of any advice provided or correspondence entered into. This information may only be withheld if its disclosure could prejudice commercial interests, inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views during the planning process, or could prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. Those seeking pre-application advice should provide a covering letter that sets out the reasons why, and for how long, any information relating to the case needs to remain confidential. Whilst it is at our discretion whether information can be treated as exempt from disclosure, it should be recognised that the point of the legislation is to make information accessible unless there is a pressing reason not to. Each case will be assessed on its merits. The passage of time may remove the need for exemption as information becomes less sensitive. Generally, notes and correspondence relating to pre-application discussion will not be treated as confidential once a planning application has been submitted and the case is in the public domain.

5 CONTACT DETAILS The Development Management team can be contacted at: Planning and Regeneration The Environment Service Perth & Kinross Council Pullar House 35 Kinnoull Street Perth PH1 5DG Telephone: David Littlejohn Head of Planning & Development

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