Pre-Application Planning Advice

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1 Pre-Application Planning Advice Guidance Note and Schedule of Fees Regeneration and Planning (Development Management) December 2014

2 The Development Management Service is responsible for the determination of planning applications within the Lancaster District. The Service employs qualified Planning Officers who offer professional advice on behalf of the Council s Committees and Councillors. It provides this advice in the wider public interest, taking into account planning policies and material planning considerations. Providing pre-application advice can often be time-consuming and costly to the Council. In addition the Service receives a number of requests for advice that are of a speculative nature and do not result in the submission of a formal planning application. However, pre-application advice has the potential to clarify matters that may arise during the planning application process, and shape development so that it benefits the District. It is for these reasons that the Development Management Service intends to reintroduce its pre-application advice service, on a chargeable basis, from 1 December The charges will be initially reviewed after six months and reviewed thereafter on an annual basis from 1 st April each year. This Guidance Note provides details of the formal process that should be followed by developers, applicants and agents, and also sets out the standards that Officers of the Development Management Service will always aim to adhere to.

3 What is Pre-Application Planning Advice? Pre-Application Advice is where a potential developer, applicant or nominated agent may ask the Development Management Service for a qualitative assessment of their development proposals. This assessment may include highlighting the planning policies that are relevant to the proposal; an indication of the other material considerations that may affect the outcome of a planning application; and an initial, informal view as to whether planning permission would be likely to be granted. When can Pre-Application Planning Advice be sought? You can submit a request for pre-application planning advice for any proposed nondomestic development. This can include proposed new housing (new build or conversions), proposals for new or converted commercial development including retail, offices, leisure, tourism-related proposals and food and drink uses; proposed industrial development, nondomestic energy-related proposals (such as solar farms or wind turbines), and agricultural development. This list is not exhaustive. Unfortunately you cannot apply for pre-application planning advice for a proposed domestic householder development (i.e. an extension to your house or a domestic structure within your house/garden boundary). Instead, the Council has produced standing advice in the form of our Householder Design Guide, and this will assist with all domestic householder proposals, and this advice can be viewed via the Council s website Do you charge for all types of advice? No. The Service can still provide a general level of free advice regarding queries about the planning application process, related building regulation issues, and about procedural matters. The following types of enquiry remain free of charge: Queries regarding the process of submitting a planning application (e.g. advice regarding the type of application form required, questions regarding fees and the extent of supporting information that would be necessary). Queries regarding the process of how a planning application is determined. Queries regarding the status or progress of any submitted planning applications. Queries concerning the decision level of an application (i.e. will the application be determined by Officers or by the Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee?). Questions regarding whether there are any protected trees within the site. Any separate building regulation enquiries regarding development. Advice to third parties regarding imminent or ongoing development proposals. Advice to Parish and Town Councils relating to development that they will undertake themselves. Advice to Government Agencies.

4 Specific advice from Conservation Officers only in respect of separate, stand-alone Listed Building Consent applications and separate, stand-alone relevant demolition in Conservation Area applications. Any planning enforcement queries. Why apply for Pre-Application Advice? You do not have to submit a pre-application planning enquiry before applying for planning permission. However, the Development Management Service considers that preapplication discussions are mutually beneficial for the following reasons: It will help avoid the submission of incomplete applications By listing the plans and supporting documents that the Development Management Service will require at formal planning application stage It will reduce the number of unsuccessful planning applications By identifying any areas of planning policy conflict and by the provision of professional advice at a sufficiently-early stage to allow applicants to amend their proposals where necessary to improve the quality of their scheme It has the potential to save time Where applicants follow the advice that has been provided, thus reducing the likelihood of requests for further amendments during the formal application process It has the potential to save money Where proposals are completely unacceptable in principle, thus saving the costs of drafting full plans and supporting statements at the formal planning application stage What services are offered as Pre-Application Advice? From 1st December 2014, pre-application planning advice will no longer be free of charge and can only be requested via the submission of Application Form PRE1 (available via and with the payment of the relevant fee, details of which are provided later in this Guidance Note. However, before you proceed you will need to decide what level of service you require. We offer two different levels of pre-application advice.

5 Level 1 In Principle Advice This level of advice will be appropriate where you or your client wishes to obtain general guidance regarding the acceptability of the principle of your proposed development. For Level 1 advice you will need to submit: Application form PRE1, completed in full; The relevant fee; and, A location plan identifying the site (a scale of 1:1250 or 1:2500 is suggested). Elevations, floor plans and photographs are not required for this level of service, although you may wish to include them at your discretion as they may assist the Planning Officer in providing you with a faster response. We will not usually visit the site but will instead provide a desk-based assessment of your proposals. We will aim to provide a written summary of our advice, based upon your submission, within 20 working days of receipt of your valid pre-application request. That written advice will include the following: The constraints that affect the site; The most relevant Development Plan policies that will affect your proposal; An indication as to whether the proposal is generally acceptable in principle or not, (this will set out the main matters that should be addressed, or in the event that a proposal is deemed to be unacceptable, the reasons for this view); The likelihood for any planning obligations/developer contributions necessary to mitigate the impacts arising from the development; and, A checklist of which documents are required to accompany the formal planning application. Level 2 Detailed Advice This will provide greater written advice regarding your proposal and will usually be the most relevant level of service for proposals for major and locally-strategic residential and commercial developments. For Level 2 advice, you will need to submit: Application form PRE1, completed in full; The relevant fee; A location plan identifying the site - a scale of 1:1250 or 1:2500 is suggested; An accurate survey of the site, including buildings and features both within and immediately surrounding the land; and, An indicative site layout plan, with some indication of zones of development and/or parameters.

6 Draft elevations, floor plans and photographs are not required but they may assist the Planning Officer, depending upon the type of development being proposed. For Level 2 advice we will visit the site and make a pre-application assessment of your proposals. We will aim to provide you with a copy of this written assessment within 25 working days of receipt of your valid pre-application request. That written advice will include the following: The constraints that affect the site; The most relevant Development Plan policies that will affect your proposal; An assessment of the main issues that will affect the proposal, with brief commentary on each issue; The likelihood for any planning obligations/developer contributions necessary to mitigate the impacts arising from the development; A checklist of which documents are required to accompany the formal planning application; A suggested list of other consultees that you may wish to separately engage; and, A summary position setting out the advice. If on the receipt of your advice you require a Level 2 follow-up meeting, then this can be accommodated but a separate fee will apply and the fee for this meeting will need to be paid in advance of the meeting date (see Schedule of Fees). As part of the Level 2 service, if your development project constitutes a major, strategic proposal (i.e. usually 100+ new dwellings or 2,000+ sq.m of commercial development, then the pre-application process may thereafter be managed via the use of a Planning Performance Agreement. This would be drafted at the first follow-up meeting. Such an Agreement will seek to set timescales for all actions and tasks, key milestones and scheduling any further meetings that may be necessary. Where it is available, input from external statutory consultees will be sought as part of the Planning Performance Agreement as your proposals progress. This may include City Council Ward Councillors, Parish Councillors or a representative of an established community group. How do I apply for Pre-Application Advice? To submit a request for pre-application advice, the pre-application form (Form PRE1, available at should be completed in full and submitted to the address at the end of this Guide, or ed to All forms must be accompanied by the relevant fee and supporting information. Preapplication proposals will not be processed until the fee and documentation has been received.

7 Schedule of Fees for Pre-Application Advice All the figures below are inclusive of VAT. Development Category Level 1 Advice Household Extensions and Alterations New residential units, including change of use to residential (1-9 units or where number of units is not specified, upto 0.49 hectare) New residential units including change of use to residential (10-49 units or, where the number of units is not specified, between 0.5 and 1.0 hectare) New residential units including change of use to residential (50-99 units or, where the number of units is not specified, between 1.01 hectare and 1.5 hectare) New residential units including change of use to residential (100+ units or, where the number of units is not specified, development in excess of 1.5 hectare) New commercial, industrial, retail and leisure development, works or operations, including change of use (upto 1000 square metres) New commercial, industrial, retail and leisure development, work or operations including change of use (Between sq.m) New commercial, industrial, retail and leisure development, work or operations including change of use (In excess of 2000 sq.m) Telecommunications-related development and (nondomestic) wind turbines, solar, photo-voltaic or other nondomestic renewable energy projects Level 2 Advice Standing Advice is provided on the Council s website free of charge (The Householder Design Guide). No other preapplication planning advice is available for house extensions and alterations Development for the purposes of agriculture or forestry (not including agricultural worker s dwellings, which will instead comprise a dwelling for the purpose of the preapplication fee) Display of advertisements Follow-Up meetings are not available for Level 1 Advice. For Level 2 Advice, all follow-up meetings are charged at 250, to be paid in advance of the date of the meeting(s). Please attach a covering letter or outlining your request.

8 NOTE: In accordance with the provisions of the Morecambe Area Action Plan, development proposals relating to any land or properties within the Action Plan boundary will not incur a fee. Frequently Asked Questions What if I disagree with the advice provided? There will be instances where the professional advice that is provided will not be the outcome that you had hoped for. In most cases the difference of opinion will relate to the disagreement of the planning merits of the scheme, rather than any factual errors within the written response. Disagreement with the advice that has been provided can only be resolved by submitting a planning application and testing the merits of the case through the formal planning application process. I am reluctant to pay a fee. Are there any free resources that I can use to test my planning proposal instead? We would always advocate that applicants and agents should take advantage of the preapplication service that we provide to ensure that solutions to potential problems can be identified wherever possible. However, if you do not wish to use this service, you can still access the Council s Development Plan Documents free of charge via Here you will find details of specific land allocations, relevant policies and any supplementary guidance that may be relevant to your proposed scheme. The Government s National Planning Policy Framework and accompanying practice guidance sets out the planning policies for England and can be downloaded via What else can I do to assist with my proposed development? One of the simplest measures that is often overlooked is the need for constructive dialogue between the applicant and the local community. The Development Management Service will of course consult the community on any planning application, but there is no substitute for a developer meaningfully engaging with those that the proposed development will affect prior to submitting a planning application. Local knowledge can often be used to positively influence the development proposals. Why can I not apply for pre-application advice to find out my chances of gaining planning permission for my domestic house extension? Instead of pre-application advice for household development, the Council has recently introduced standing advice (the Householder Design Guide) on its website. This is a free resource and it relates to all domestic extensions and alterations. It provides good practice

9 in terms of scale, layout, design and appearance, and also provides tips regarding practical issues. The general principles contained within the standing advice apply to all domestic extensions or other domestic projects. The Householder Design Guide is available via Terms and Conditions We will make every effort to ensure that the advice provided is as accurate as possible. Development Management Planning Officers act on behalf of the Council in offering impartial advice, based upon their professional judgement and without prejudice to the formal consideration of any subsequent planning application. However, it is important to remember that the advice does not constitute a formal decision of the Council. Therefore it cannot be held to bind the Council in either its validation or formal determination of any subsequent planning application. If a planning application is later submitted which fails to take on-board the advice given by Officers, then the Council retains the right to refuse the planning application without further discussion with the applicant or their agent. Users of this service should also recognise that the weight that can be attributed to the written pre-application advice will diminish over time due to any future changes to national planning legislation or changes to national or local planning policy. Finally, the pre-application advice is dependent upon the accuracy of the information that applicants provide. If the information submitted is inaccurate, then the advice provided will cease to carry weight. Contact Us Development Management (Administration) T: Regeneration and Planning Service E: PO Box 4 Town Hall Lancaster LA1 1QR

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