Charging for Pre-application Advice. WSCC Guidance Note

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1 Charging for Pre-application Advice WSCC Guidance Note

2 Content 1. Introduction 1.1 Our Objectives 1.2 Development Team Approach 1.3 Areas of Advice 1.4 What We Expect of You 1.5 Benefits of Pre-application Advice 2. Pre-application Advice Charges 2.1 Proposals Requiring a Fee 2.2 Charges for Advice 2.3 Exemptions 2.4 Additional Charges 2.5 Payment of Charges 3. Pre-application Advice Process 3.1 Pre-application Process 3.2 Scope for Discussion 3.3 Information Required for Pre-application Discussion 3.4 Standard of Service 3.5 What Will You Get From the Service? 3.6 Pre-application Meeting 3.7 Written Confirmation of Officer Advice 4. Please Note Appendix A Contacts and Further Guidance Appendix B Pre-application Advice Request Form 1

3 1. Introduction 1.1 Our Objectives West Sussex County Council operates a scheme of charging for pre-application advice for significant development proposals and project work. This note provides guidance on the procedure and charging arrangements for preapplication advice. The County Council considers around 4,000 planning applications each year many of which have an impact on the local landscape, historic environment or facilities and services the County Council manages or provides. The advice of the County Council is an important consideration for the Planning Authority when determining planning applications. The County Council welcomes and encourages discussions before a developer submits a planning application. These discussions can result in better quality applications which stand a better chance of a successful outcome and help speed up the decision making process after submission. As a consequence they can help to minimise subsequent costs and avoid abortive applications. To enable the Council to provide this service to a consistent and high standard the Council will allocate significant resources to the service. The Council has decided that the cost of providing the service should be recovered directly from the developer and not fall as a general cost to the council taxpayer. It should be noted that the current statutory planning fees do not cover the cost of preapplication advice given by the County Council. 1.2 Development Team Approach The principle of front loading the local planning process is detailed within Planning Policy Statement 12: Local Development Frameworks. The document established the need for a streamlined and efficient process to ensure housing targets can be met, one of the proposed improvements is to front load the planning process ensuring that discussions are undertaken at the earliest opportunity. Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing highlights the need for a collaborative working approach, which should be initiated at an early stage of the planning process to ensure that development is delivered to a high standard and housing objectives can be met. The recently published Manual for Streets (March 2007) also emphasizes the need for a collaborative approach to shaping development proposals, where developers, local authorities and other public agencies work together to ensure developments are designed and delivered with consideration of all relevant issues. 2

4 1.3 Areas of Advice The WSCC Pre application charging policy covers a range of specialist topics, as detailed below: Highways and Transport WSCC, as the Local Highway Authority provides advice on a wide range of transport issues including topics such as access design and road safety to accessibility and parking provision. WSCC aim to provide a customer focused service, and ensures that the appropriate consultation takes place with local members and County Local Committees (CLCs) on all development related works promoted in association with developer led proposals and secure infrastructure improvements as identified through local and county plans. Highways and Transport issues are often key considerations during the planning process. The pre application advice that the County Council offers enables conflicts to be identified and addressed at an early stage in the planning process. Environment and Heritage The Environment and Heritage Team provides professional advice on archaeology, biodiversity and ecology, buildings conservation and landscape architecture to the Districts and Boroughs in West Sussex, and the County Council planning functions as a Minerals and Waste Authority, to inform their land-use planning decisions. The County Council aim to protect, promote and enhance the quality of the environment and character of the county through the work with the local planning authorities and developers. Specialist pre-application advice for these areas highlights any significant issues or concerns at an early stage enabling developers to address these and subsequently to submit an application that is more likely to fit to be considered favorably by the County Council. 1.4 What We Expect of You Applicants are expected to be aware of WSCCs policies in considering the early stages of a proposal as this provides the most efficient basis for discussion. Applicants will be expected to highlight and explain where, and why, current policies do not form the basis of a submission. While we appreciate that some information may not be available for preapplication discussions, we expect a minimum level of information to be provided to enable us to provide quality advice and guidance and ensure that time is used effectively. You will need to provide the information listed in section 3.3 below in order to assist in the provision of effective advice. 3

5 1.5 Benefits of Pre-application Advice Pre-application advice will provide you with the following benefits: An understanding of how national, regional and local guidance and policies will be applied to your development Potential for reducing the time your professional advisors spend in working up the proposals An indication of those proposals that are completely unacceptable, so saving you the cost of pursuing a formal application. Written confirmation of the advice given to you at the pre-application stage Advice that is consistent, reliable and up to date and tailored to your specific needs Comprehensive information on what you need to provide in order for your application to be considered favorably by the County Council. If an application is submitted which requires significant change, where preapplication advice has not been sought or followed or where no explanation has been provided to support a proposal which does not follow published advice, the County Council will respond to the District Council based upon the information submitted with the application, it is unlikely that, at that stage, an applicant will be invited to discuss the proposal. We therefore expect that any applicant will seek pre-application advice before committing to make an application. 4

6 2. Pre-application Advice Charges 2.1 Proposals Requiring a Fee A fee will be charged for pre application advice relating to the following scales of development: Category 1 Proposals - Small Scale/ Complexity Development Proposals for between 10 and 24 residential units Proposals for between 100 and 500 sqm of commercial floor space Change of use up to 500 sqm Proposals for Small Mixed use developments of up to 10 dwellings and 100 sqm commercial use floor space Category 2 Proposals - Medium Scale/ Complexity Development Proposals for between 25 and 49 residential units Proposals for between 500 and 1000 sqm of commercial floor space Change of use up to 1000 sqm Proposals for Medium Mixed use developments of up to 24 dwellings and 500 sqm commercial use floor space Category 3 Proposals - Large Scale/ Complexity Development Proposals for between 50 and 79 residential units Proposals for between 1000 and 2000 sqm of commercial floor space Change of use up to 2000 sqm Proposals for Large Mixed use developments of up to 49 dwellings and 1000 sqm commercial use floor space Category 4 Proposals - Major Scale/ Complexity Development Proposals for between 80 and 199 residential units Proposals for between 2000 and 5000 sqm of commercial floor space Change of use up to 5000 sqm Proposals for Major Mixed use developments of up to 79 dwellings and 2000 sqm commercial use floor space Category 5 Proposals - Project Work Proposals for 200 or more residential units Proposals for 5000 sqm or more of commercial floor space Change of use over 5000 sqm Proposals for Complex Mixed use developments of more than 199 dwellings and 5000 sqm commercial use floor space Consultations where landowners wish to establish their potential value or where a clear and consistent advice for potential developers will expedite the development process If your development proposal does not clearly fit into the categories above please contact WSCC for further advice. 5

7 2.2 Charges for Advice The charges for Environment and Heritage advice vary across the County depending on which Local Planning Authority will determine any subsequent planning application because certain Districts or Boroughs maintain their own advisors. The charges for this service will be tiered according to the categories set out in section 2.1. Enquiry Highways and Transport Stage 1 Environment and Heritage Stage 2 Archaeology Stage 2 - Biodiversity and Ecology Stage 2 - Buildings Conservation Stage 2 - Landscape Category 1 Small Category 2 Medium Category 3 Large Category 4 Major Category 5 - Project Work 2050 Minimum fee - calculated on a site specific basis Please Note The advice fee for category 1 proposals in Chichester District is 100 and category 2 5 is Please Note Archaeology advice is not give for any proposals in Chichester District Please Note Building Conservation advice is not given for any proposals in Chichester, Horsham and Worthing Districts Please Note Landscape advice is not given for category 1 proposals in Adur, Arun, Crawley and Worthing Districts Cancellation of a request for a pre-application meeting will result in a cancellation fee of 25% or 250, which ever is higher, which will be applied to the preapplication fee unless the meeting is cancelled by West Sussex County Council. VAT may be charged if applicable. 2.3 Exemptions The charging scheme will not apply to discussions in connection with minor residential applications (0-9 units), very small business premises, and related advertisement proposals, certificates of lawfulness, enforcement or advice to any local resident affected by a development. Such advice at this time will continue to be provided free of charge. Advice to district and Borough Councils on the following policy work will continue to be provided free of charge: Advice on policy preparation of Master Plans Advice on policy preparation of Local Development Framework Submissions 6

8 Advice on policy preparation of Strategic Sites Once Planning Policy has been established a charge may be applied, the council will advise at which point a charge will become applicable. No chargeable advice will be given over the telephone. 2.4 Additional Charges The standard charge for major development/ project work inquiries relates to the amount of time taken by the case officer(s), from the investigation stage to a meeting with the applicant and the subsequent written confirmation of advice. The authority reserves the right to advise that the scope for further discussion has been exhausted. Any additional work required to respond to additional queries beyond this point will be charged at an hourly. Any monitoring of any on-site works required in either the production of specialist reports and surveys or mitigation strategies submitted with the planning application will be charged at an hourly rate at cost. Hourly rates will be charged at cost. Where additional specialist advice is required, Consultant s fees will be charged at cost. Additional meetings will only be attended where all action points agreed at the previous meeting have been addressed to our satisfaction and may require an additional fee. If a developer requires written advice only, without a pre-application meeting, we will provide a written response within 21 days of receipt of all necessary information and apply a reduction of 25% to the appropriate fee. 2.5 Payment of Charges Once we have received the request for pre application advice form and associated information we will write to you to confirm the total cost of the advice requested. An invoice will be sent along with a letter confirming who will be the lead officer dealing with your request. The invoice must be paid within 30 days and will be receipted on request. Additional charges will be invoiced within 10 days from the date of final comment. Invoices must be settled within 30 days. If a meeting is cancelled charges may be made for any pre-meeting enquiries or any investigations that have been carried out. 7

9 3. Pre-application Advice Process 3.1 Pre-application Process Step 1 You complete the pre app advice form to request pre-application advice and attach the information we require. If Yes Step 2 Within 10 working days we will let you know if the service is appropriate and confirm the fee that is required for the advice requested. You will receive written conformation of who will be the lead officer dealing with your enquiry and an invoice for the appropriate amount. If necessary additional information will be requested. If No We will let you know what other sources of advice are available. Step 3 Once the information has been received the lead officer will contact you to arrange a meeting date if required. If a meeting is not required we will confirm that the information submitted will enable us to provide the appropriate level of advice. Step 4 Attend a Pre-application meeting (if required) with our team. The District Planning Officer will be invited to attend but attendance is not guaranteed. Step 5 Within 21 working days of the meeting, or receipt of a full submission, we will write to you confirming our advice. We will also outline any actions you may need to take in order to make your application valid and give details of any groups and organisations we think you may need to consult with. Step 6 If, following our letter to you in Stage 5, you request further meetings or advice a further fee may be required. Step 7 You then amend your proposals in light of our advice and submit a formal application Providing no further research or site investigation is required you will receive a detailed advice letter outlining major issues, constraints and requirements which have been agreed by the relevant Team Manager. Please Note that all invoices should be paid within 30 days. 8

10 3.2 Scope for Discussion Highway and Transport Pre Application Advice The matters which could be subject of a pre-application discussion include: Relevant policies and guidance The procedure, consultation and estimated timescales in regard to Highway advice and processes The required level of detail and the supporting information necessary to provide a valid assessment of highways and transport issues The likely requirement for the Developer to contribute towards Highways and Transport schemes and services The content, preparation and presentation of a transport assessment likely to satisfy the County Councils requirements Planning history of the site and the comments made to previous applications by WSCC H&T The assessments required where development proposals lie within or in close proximity to environmentally sensitive locations, such as AQMA, AONB and SSSIs Environment and Heritage Pre Application Advice Stage 1 Assessment A Stage 1 Assessment consists of a review of information held by WSCC within a 1km radius of the site boundary. The scope of the assessment will vary across the County depending on which specialist disciplines are provided to the Local Planning Authority by WSCC. Included within the Stage 1 assessment is a Historic Environment Record search, for which there is normally a separate charge. The West Sussex Historic Environment Record consists of the Sites and Monuments Record, Registers of Parks and Gardens, Registers of Listed Buildings, the Extensive Urban Survey and the Historic Landscape Characterisation of West Sussex. The Stage 1 Assessment Report will: Outline all known environment and heritage constraints which could have an impact on the development proposal Give a professional judgement on the likely significance of any issues identified Outline what level of information should be included within a desk top study or what level of site work is likely to be required. Will give Advice on what level further work is likely to be required to support any subsequent planning application. Recommend if Stage 2 assessment advice is considered to be of significant benefit To support the Stage 1 Assessment Report a map of known constraints will be produced. The applicant will also be provided with details of other information providers that should be consulted during the pre application process, such as the Sussex 9

11 Biodiversity Record Centre who hold the most comprehensive biodiversity datasets, and will levy their own charges. Stage 2 Assessment The Stage 2 Assessment provides more detailed advice on environment and heritage issues through ongoing discussions with the applicant throughout the pre app process. It is recommended that Stage 2 advice is sought where significant impacts have been identified through a Stage 1 Assessment. Please note that each area of advice will not always be needed, for example some proposals will have no impact on ecology but would on archaeological. If you are unsure of what advice you require please contact WSCC. A Stage 2 Assessment will include: A review of the desk based assessment work to establish what further work, if any, is required. Guidance on the scope and content of specialist reports and surveys If the proposed development is, in principle, acceptable or not Advice on the development of any mitigation strategies and the suitability of measures proposed Advice on what planning conditions and S106 clauses may be applied to future planning applications Should Stage 2 Advice be sought without a Stage 1 Assessment WSCC cannot guarantee that all necessary assessment work has been undertaken. 3.3 Information Required for Pre-application Discussion WSCC requires a sufficient level of information to be provided before any preapplication advice is given or meetings are attended. This is to enable us to provide quality advice and guidance to be given and ensure the meeting time is used effectively. The following list is the requirement for information. You will be informed at the relevant stage of the process if additional information is required. You must ensure that we receive all of the information 10 working days before a pre-application meeting otherwise the meeting may need to be rescheduled. The more information that is provided to WSCC the better able we will be to ensure that all the issues are identified early in the discussion process. The following information is required: Confirmation that you are willing to pay the appropriate fee by signing the declaration, A site location plan (scale 1:1250) with site boundary indicated, Schedule of existing uses, including planning history with reference numbers, Description, including plans, of the proposed development and schedule of uses, 10

12 In addition the following information should be provided at the earliest point available: Location plan of key services indicating locations of education, employment, food retail, non-food retail and health care facilities, Reference to supporting national, regional and local Planning documents and policies Parking Strategy, including provision of parking for all modes of transport, Relevant traffic data collected to date. Summary of reasons supporting site access/highway works proposals, including plan (scale 1:200 or similar) with achievable visibility splays indicated, Design Audit of proposed site access, including identified departures from standards, Final Stage 1 Road Safety Audit (if required see Safety Audit Policy) of site access and designers response, including amended plans, For Category 3 proposals and above, the following information should also be provided at the earliest point available; Information related to any necessary Environmental Impact Assessment in regard to transport Proposed trip rates supported with TRICS outputs and site selection methodology Proposed traffic growth factors supported with NRTF/ TEMPRO growth factors and methodology 3.4 Standard of Service If you have a proposal which is likely to be subject to a charge you can contact us in a number of ways: Write to us at: Local Development Division, 1 st Floor Northleigh, Tower Street, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RH us at Telephone us at the West Sussex Contact Centre on (01243) Visit our web site When you contact us we will ask you to fill out a pre-application advice form and provide us with the required information (as above). The form can be sent to you by post, or can be downloaded from our website. 3.5 What Will You Get From the Service? We will: Provide written confirmation within 10 working days of receiving your request to tell you whether the service is right for you 11

13 Provide details of what further information you may need to supply Contact you to arrange a date for a meeting if required Arrange a meeting with you and invite the District council planning officers to advise you on your case, including any site visits needed Provide detailed written confirmation within 21 working days of the meeting, or receipt of a full submission, of our advice. This will include what you will need to supply to support your application Advise on whether a Section 106 agreement is likely and the process we use to agree it Ensure any necessary confidentiality 3.6 Pre-application Meeting Subject to the availability of all of the required information, the date and venue for the pre-application advice meeting will be confirmed by all parties. Normally, the meeting will be held at the County Hall offices at Tower Street, Chichester but we can also consider site meetings or alternative venues if required. The pre-application meeting will follow a standard agenda to ensure that all of the relevant topics are addressed. Where complex site specific issues are identified additional items can be added to the agenda to ensure that these issues are appropriately discussed. 3.7 Written Confirmation of Officer Advice Following the pre-application meeting, or the submission of a full pre application package, you will receive a written response confirming our advice. Our aim is to issue a response within 21 working days of the meeting being held. Where this is not possible due to the issues being more complex, a specific time scale reflecting this will be agreed at the meeting. The information set out in the written response will be verified by the Team Manager and, where appropriate, the Group Manager. If you request further discussions following the receipt of this written advice a further fee is likely to be required. Where proposals for project work, large or major schemes with highly complex issues a series of meetings or pre application submissions may be required, this should be discussed and an approach agreed during an initial pre-application meeting. An additional fee may be required. Additional meetings will only be attended where all action points agreed at the previous meeting have been addressed to our satisfaction. If a developer requires written advice only, without a pre-application meeting, we will provide a written response within 21 days of receipt of all necessary information and apply a reduction of 25% to the appropriate fee. 12

14 4. Please Note Requesting WSCC Pre-Application advice is not mandatory. However WSCC will no longer enter into discussion over the scope or content of any specialist highways and transport, archaeological, biodiversity, buildings conservation or landscape reports submitted as part of a planning application, or any mitigation proposals, outside the Pre-Application Advice Scheme. Any advice given by the Council officers for pre-application enquiries does not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council with regards to future planning consents. Any views or opinions are given in good faith, and on the best of ability, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application, which will be subject to public consultation and ultimately decided by the Planning Authority. You should therefore be aware that officers cannot give guarantees about the final formal decision that will be made on your planning or related applications. However, the advice note will form the basis of our consultation response to the Planning Authority, who will determine any subsequent planning applications, subject to the proviso that circumstances and information may change or come to light that could alter the position. It should be noted that little or no weight will be given to the content of the Councils pre-application advice for schemes submitted more than 3 years after the date of the advice being used. We cannot offer advice that can bind the Council but we will give you the best advice possible on the information and proposals that you provide. We cannot guarantee that any subsequent application you make will be valid or will get approval. However, the pre-application advice we give you will aid this process significantly. All invoices should be paid within 30 days. Any advice given in relation to the planning history of the site, planning constraints or statutory designations does not constitute a formal response under the provisions of the Local Land Charges Act 1975 Should Stage 2 Environment and Heritage Advice be sought without a Stage 1 Assessment WSCC cannot guarantee that all necessary assessment work has been undertaken. 13

15 Appendix A Contacts and Further Guidance West Sussex County Council If you have a proposal which is likely to be subject to a charge or any queries regarding the pre-application process you can contact us in a number of ways: Write to us at Local Development Division, 1 st Floor Northleigh, Tower Street, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RH us at Telephone us at the West Sussex Contact Centre on (01243) Further advice on development controls work and the County Councils policy and guidance can be found on the West Sussex County Council Website at The Development Control Page provides links to all of the relevant policy and standards. These include: Developer-funded scheme list Residential Design Guidance Guidance on Travel Plans Road Adoption Manual for Streets Safety Audit Policy Parking Standards WSCC Transport Contributions Guidance on Transport Assessment WSCC Transport Contributions Calculator The Heritage, Wildlife and Landscape Page provides information on topics including: Biodiversity Action Plans Woodlands, Trees and Tree Wardens Geology and Soils Archaeology Hedgerows Landscape Records and Recording Heritage and Historic Environment Records Sites of Nature Conservation Importance Department for Transport Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings information Advice on National transport policy and guidance can be found on the DfT website Manual for Streets can be found at Communities and Local Government National Planning Policy Guidance (PPGs) and Statements (PPSs) can be found at Documents of particular interest include: PPG 13: Transport Sustainability Appraisal (SA) PPG 15: Planning and the Historic Environment Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) PPG 16: Archaeology and Planning Other Useful Links Sussex Wildlife Trust English Heritage Act Travelwise Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers UK (ALGAO) 14

16 Appendix B This form should be returned to: REQUEST FOR PRE-APPLICATION ADVICE Local development, West Sussex County Council, 1 st Floor Northleigh, Tower Street, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1RH Applicant Contact Details Agent Contact Details Name Name Company Company Address Address Post Code Post Code Tel No. Tel No. Preferred Contact Yes No Preferred Contact Yes No Development Site Address Description of Development proposal: District/ Borough Council Adur Arun Chichester ADVICE REQUIRED (Please tick to confirm advice required) Environment and Heritage Crawley Horsham Mid Sussex Worthing CATEGORY OF PROPOSAL Highways and Transport Full Stage 1 Assessment Stage 1 - Chichester District Stage 2 Archaeology (excludes Chichester District) Stage 2 - Biodiversity & Ecology Stage 2 Building Conservation (excludes Chichester, Horsham and Worthing Districts) Stage 2 Landscape (excludes category 1 proposals in Adur, Arun, Crawley and Worthing Districts) ATTACHED INFORMATION (Please tick to confirm) A site location plan (scale 1:1250) with site boundary indicated, Schedule of existing uses, including planning history with reference numbers, Description, including site layout plans, of the proposed development and schedule of uses, Summary of reasons supporting site access/highway works proposals, including plan (scale 1:200 or similar) with achievable visibility splays indicated, Design Audit of proposed highway works, including identified departures from standards, Final Stage 1 Road Safety Audit (if required see Safety Audit Policy) of proposed highway works and designers response, including amended plans, Location plan of key services indicating locations of education, employment, food retail, non-food retail and health care facilities, Reference to supporting national, regional and local Planning documents and policies Parking Strategy, including provision of parking for all modes of transport, Relevant data collected to date. For Category 3 proposals and above; Information related to any necessary Environmental Impact Assessment Proposed trip rates supported with TRICS outputs and site selection methodology Proposed traffic growth factors supported with NRTF/ TEMPRO growth factors and methodology Declaration I (the undersigned) hereby request the views of West Sussex County Council on the pre-application proposal and agree to pay the fee* for this service. I also agree to pay any additional sums arising from the service as detailed in the pre-application planning service charging scheme. Signed... Print Name... Date... * An invoice for the appropriate fee will be sent to the address above

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