Pre-Application Advice Protocol

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1 Planning Services Development Management Pre-Application Advice Protocol Version 2: February 2015

2 Introducing the Durham County Council Pre-Application Advice Service Durham County Council s Planning Development Service is committed to delivering a pragmatic and timely Development Management service which ensures the service meets the key corporate vision of facilitating the regeneration of the County. The Development Management service fully recognises that a very important requirement for the development industry, when making investment decisions, is the speed and clarity of the planning process. In line with other standard procedures applied by the Development Management service of Durham County Council this has been the foremost consideration in the formulation of this protocol. It is well documented that effective and timely pre-application advice leads to better quality developments in terms of overall build quality, at less cost to a developer. The service is committed to providing high quality pre-application advice to ensure that the opportunities to work in partnership with developers to improve the quality of developments are maximised. The Killian Petty review in to the planning system (November 2008) recognised that one of the key drivers to delivering a successful planning service is the availability of a Local Authority to offer customers quality of pre-application advice. These findings were taken forward in advice detailed in both the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Policy Guidance (PPG). Para of the NPPF provides advice on the importance of Local Planning Authorities having effective pre-application advice services in place in order to help them manage effective front loading of projects through helping to resolve as many issues as possible, in the shortest timeframe possible, at the pre-application stage. The PPG follows the thrust of NPPF advice in relation to the importance of LPA s delivering timely and comprehensive pre-application advice. Para Paragraph: 010 Reference ID: advises: A prospective applicant can expect a clear, timely, and authoritative, view on the merits of a proposed development as well as clear advice on consultation requirements and the information to be submitted with a formal planning application Aims of the Durham County Council Pre Application Advice Protocol To provide a timely and consistent level of service, which ensures that the advice offered at the pre-application stage is provided within a reasonable length of time and which is of sufficient quality to ensure that it is honored as and when customers make a planning application which follows the advice which has been provided. To ensure that in those cases where the advice is to support a proposal in principle, to provide comprehensive advice as to what will be required from a customer to ensure that a planning application is determined favorably, in the shortest timeframe possible.

3 To ensure that in those cases where the advice is to resist a proposal in principle, to provide a clear explanation why this is the case, and what a customer may be able to do to challenge this view. To adopt a pro-active and problem solving approach, to ensure that with the exception of those proposals which are considered to be clear non-starters, that Officers seek to work in partnership with customers to advise what needs to be done to ensure that any areas of concern can be addressed to deliver a favourable recommendation at the planning application stage. To provide a structured route to opening effective and ongoing dialogue between a customer and the service. To ensure that the service receives an income receipt from the provision of preapplication advice, appropriate to the complexity of the project and the level of advice requested, to enable the service to be equipped to provide such advice in an effective and timely manner in the future. To provide dissatisfied customers with a route to seek redress against pre-application advice which has clearly failed to meet acceptable standards. How to Obtain Pre-application Advice from Durham County Council Durham County Council wishes to provide pre-application advice in writing. There are many benefits to this, not least the fact that it provides both parties with a clear audit trail as to what advice was provided in relation to a particular project. However, this should not discourage open communication between customers and the service, whether this be in person or telephone, ahead of a formal pre-application submission. Officers are always happy to meet applicants to discuss proposals, ahead of the submission of a pre-application enquiry. All pre-application enquiries should be submitted in writing, preferably electronically, and should contain the level of information required relevant to the level of advice sought. Advice for most forms of development proposals can be sought at one of two levels; either in outline or in full. Outline advice will simply provide advice as to whether or not the principle of what is being proposed is acceptable. It will involve limited internal consultation and will not seek to provide advice in regard to all the detailed issues that a planning application may raise. It will however involve a planning history search. The target timescale for responding to outline requests is 28 days. Full advice will provide a detailed analysis of all the key planning issues which would be raised in the event of a planning application being lodged. This will be provided after

4 consultation with the full range of consultees that the service would liaise with in the event of an application being lodged. This level of advice will also detail what documentation will be required to make an application valid and advise whether or not the Council will require preapplication community consultation. The target timescale for responding to a request for full advice is 40 days. However in many cases, particularly the more complex cases, receipt of this advice will merely be the prelude to an ongoing structured dialogue between a customer and the service leading up to the submission of a planning application. In both levels of advice the service provided will include, if requested, a meeting with the Case Officer both prior to submission of the request for advice and ahead of the issuing of the advice. Quality assurance is also given to advice provided for major and contentions proposals as it is signed off by an Officer having the authority to exercise the delegation of the Head of Service. Customers engaging in the full advice service will be appointed a dedicated Case Officer to manage the whole life span of the particular project. As such engaging in full advice will cover the full scope of pre-application advice required to deliver a project, including where relevant, on Heads of Terms of 106 Agreements, CIL tariff, EIA screening and scoping opinions, community consultation requirements, drafting of a Planning Performance Agreement and the like. There will be no additional charges for any (unlimited) further preapplication meetings, nor any post approval meetings to discuss conditions, 106 Agreements, or general pre commencement issues. Strategic Development Projects In addition to the above Outline and Full advice services, for large scale major strategic development projects, the service will look to build upon the principles outlined in the level of service set out above to provide a bespoke pre-application service, the scope and timescales of which will be agreed with the customer as considered appropriate for a particular project. Such projects will be underpinned by a mutually agreed PPA with individual timescales to be agreed. Householder Service In addition to providing the Outline, Full and Strategic advice options outlined above the service also operates a free service in respect to householder development proposals. This service will advise customers if planning permission and / or building regulations approval is required for a domestic proposal and will provide advice as to the likely acceptability. In cases where concerns are raised advice will also be provided as to what alternative arrangements may be possible to allow a similar form of development to be viewed favorably. The advice will also signpost customers to any other form of approval which may be required from other Council service teams. The timescale for responding to these requests is 21 days.

5 For customers seeking a quicker response a fast track service is available where for a fee of 50 a response will be provided in 3 working days. This timescale runs from the date an enquiry is received in the office to the date of the dispatch of advice. In cases where a customer pays a fee to engage in the fast track service, yet these timescales are not met, the fee will be refunded. Please note it may not be possible to provide the fastrack service for all householder enquiries, for example many proposals for works to Listed Buildings. Advice as to whether or not the fastrack service can be provided for a particular proposal should be obtained on a case by case basis from Officers. Minerals and Waste Proposals For minerals and waste proposals, bearing in mind the complexity of these proposals and the fact that it is often not possible to assess all the likely planning and environmental issues within relatively short period of time, separate timescales will be agreed, to be negotiated on a site specific basis, with Officers. All minerals and waste enquiries will be handled following the principles outlined in the full advice service. The following charges will be applied to minerals and waste pre-application enquiries: Small scale proposals (all proposals where the site area does not exceed 1ha) Large scale proposals (all proposals where the site area is in excess of 1ha but less than 15ha, and all waste proposals were the annual throughput would not exceed 50,000 tonnes) 1,200 Large scale major proposals (all proposals where the site area is in excess of 15ha or in relation to waste proposals were the annual throughput exceeds 50,000 tonnes) 2,500 A summary of the three main services, and their scope, is shown below: Outline Full Householder Planning History Search Yes Yes Yes Development Plan Context Yes Yes Yes Site Visit If required Yes If required Officer Opinion as to Yes (limited) Yes Yes Acceptability Views of internal consultees Views of external consultees Advice on pre-application community consultation Advice on validation requirements Yes (limited) Yes Yes No Yes N/a No Yes N/a No Yes Yes EIA screening opinion No Yes N/a Drafting of PPA No Yes N/a No Yes N/a Heads of Terms of S106 Agreement

6 Advice on CIL charge No Yes N/a No Yes (unlimited) N/a Ongoing Development Team Approach Meetings with consultees Pre-application dummy run meeting to check for validation (if requested) Pre-application meeting with a senior officer or service management (if requested) No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Target Timescales 28 days 40 days 21 days (3 working days for fast track) Information Requirements In order to be able to provide a quality service the Council will require the following minimum level of information to be submitted before an enquiry can be registered and thereafter assessed. In addition to this the Council encourages customers to complete the model preapplication enquiry form which is available via the web site. Householder Outline Full Completion of the Council s Householder Enquiry Form (see: Completion of preapplication enquiry form or a letter explaining details Completion of pre-application enquiry form or a letter explaining details of proposals edia/3740/householder- Planning-Enquiry- Form/pdf/HouseholderPlanni ngenquiryform.pdf of proposals OS Plan to identify site OS Plan to identify site An indicative site layout Plan Sketch drawings showing the layout, height and scale of the development (if applicable) Draft Design and Access Statement and / or Draft Planning Statement (sufficient to enable an assessment to be made of the key planning

7 issues) Please note these are minimum requirements to validate an enquiry and the submission of further information, where available, is welcomed.

8 Charging Schedule In order to enable the service to meet costs a charge will be levied for the service as per below. Charges include VAT at the appropriate rate and are chargeable for each enquiry. Development Type Outline Advice Full Advice Large-scale Major Developments Dwellings (200 or more)(4 ha or more) Offices / R & D / light industry (>10,000sq metres or >2ha) General Industry/storage/warehousing (>10,000sq metres or >2ha) Retail distribution and servicing (>10,000sq metres or >2ha) Gypsy and Traveller pitches (>10,000sq metres or >2ha) All other largescale major developments (>10,000sq metres or >2ha) 600 2,500 Small-scale Major Developments Dwellings (10-100) (0.5 ha to 2.0 ha) Dwellings ( ) (>2ha to 4ha) ,250 Offices/ R & D / light industry (1,000sq metres 5,000 sq metres) (1ha to 1.5ha) Offices/ R & D / light industry (5,001sq metres - 9,999 sq metres) >1.5ha to 2ha) ,200 General Industry/storage/Warehousing (1,000sq metres 5,000 sq metres) (1ha to 1.5 ha) General Industry/storage/warehousing (5,001sq metres 9,999 sq metres (>1.5ha to 2ha) ,200 Retail distribution and servicing (1,000sq metres 5,000 sq metres) (1ha to 1.5 ha) Retail distribution and servicing (5,0001 sq metres 9,999 sq metres) (>1.5ha to 2ha) ,000 1,400 Gypsy and Traveller pitches (1,000sq metres - 9,999 sq metres) 700 All other smallscale major developments (1,000sq metres 5,000 sq metres) (1ha to 1.5 ha) All other smallscale major developments (5,0001sq metres - 9,999 sq metres) (>1.5ha to 2ha) ,200

9 Minor Developments Dwellings (1-9) (Less than 0.5 ha) Offices / R& D / light industry (< 1000 or 1ha) Single dwelling 50 all others >1 150 Single dwelling 75 all others >1 General Industry/storage/Warehousing ( <1,000 or 1ha) Retail distribution and servicing (< 1000 or 1ha) < 40sqm 50 < 40sqm 100 Gypsy and Traveller pitches (< 1000 or 1ha) All other minor developments (< 1000 or 1ha) All Others 100 All Others Other Developments (full advice service only) Minerals and Waste Change of Use 50 See separate note above Householder developments Free (fast track service 50) Advertisements: Relating to premises where displayed or directional to a business premises located in County Durham Other advertisements / hoardings 75 Listed building consents (to alter/extend) Free Free Listed building consents (to demolish) Demolition of a building in a conservation area Free Free Demolitions 30 Agricultural 30 Telecommunications & others 200 Wind Turbine Development Fees must be paid upon the submission of an enquiry and are non-refundable (although see below) nor are they deductible from any future planning application fee submissions. General minor Do I Require Planning Permission Letters 30 per turbine Letters to confirm Officer view regarding compliance with conditions or lawfulness of activity 50

10 In the event of a customer initially engaging in Outline advice and then proceeding to follow this up with a Full submission with accords with the outline scheme a reduction of 20% will be made from the relevant Full advice fee. What Happens Following Submission? Upon receipt of your enquiry, it will be acknowledged and given a unique reference. The acknowledgement will inform you of the date by which you can expect to receive a response and the name and contact details of the Case Officer who will be dealing with your enquiry. What if Things Go Wrong? As part of its wider commitment to high standards of customer care the Development Management service aims to deliver an excellent level of service in relation to preapplication advice. This is based on providing a level of service which seeks to provide strong value for money by continually meeting the stated aims of the service as outlined above. However, despite best endeavors there will inevitably be occasions when customers are dissatisfied with the level of service provided. In such cases a customer will be invited to initially discuss their concerns with the relevant Area Team Leader. If still not satisfied following this the approach to the Team Leader, customers will be invited to refer the matter to the Planning Development Manager. In cases where the level of advice offered has plainly failed to meet the standards of service set out in this policy the Planning Development Manager will give consideration to a refund of any fees paid. The service attached much importance to the provision of timely pre-application advice. In this regard this area of the service is actively monitors through a robust performance management framework that covers all areas of advice. Although we do not commit to responding to all enquires with target timescales the flowing targets apply: Strategic Projects Outline Advice Full Advice Householder Householder Fastrack To deliver 100% of projects within agreed PPA timeframes To respond to 80% of enquiries inside 28 days To respond to 80% of enquiries inside 40 days To respond to 80% of enquiries inside 21 days To respond to 100% of enquires in 3 working days Whilst the service does not commit, with the exception of fastrack householder enquires, to responding to all enquires within target timescales, to ensure that close attention is paid to

11 the desirability of responding within target deadlines in the event of targets being missed, the following refund arrangements will apply upon request: 25% refund if response still not issued 14 days after target response date 50% refund if response still not issued 28 days after target response date 100% refund if response still not issued 42 days after target response date It is important to note that despite best endeavors the provision of pre-application advice cannot be held to be binding on the Authority following the submission of a planning application. It is also important to note that in cases where there is a delay between the offering of pre-application advice and the submission of a planning application that the relevant planning policy context may have changed and this can affect the quality of advice offered.

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