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Pre-application advice

Christchurch

Pre-application advice

Download the  pre-application planning form 

Please note that we are unable to give planning advice over the phone or by any means other than those outlined below.

If you wish to know whether your proposal meets permitted development criteria then please submit a Certificate of Lawfulness for a Proposed Development, we will not be able to assist you via the pre-application process.

We encourage you to seek advice before submitting a formal planning application.  This service is offered for all types of development proposals.  Pre-application advice is recognised as an important part of the planning process.  ts objectives are to improve the quality of the applications submitted, with the aim of delivering quality outcomes to the benefit of the customer, us and the community at large.  It also helps to reduce the risk of applicants incurring the full costs of submitting an unacceptable proposal.

The Local Government Act 2003 allows us to operate a scheme of charging for discretionary services such as this so that the costs of providing the service do not fall to the Council Tax payers. The provision of the pre-application service is time consuming and costly, and the statutory planning application fees do not cover the cost of pre-application advice. The fees charged will be reviewed periodically to ensure that the fee covers the costs for providing this service.

Important Information

  • all advice is given in good faith, without prejudice and cannot guarantee the outcome of any subsequent application which will be subject to a period of consultation and public notification and may be decided at a Planning Committee. The local planning authority will only be bound where a formal application is submitted and a formal decision is issued in writing
  • the advice given is based on the planning policies and circumstances that apply at the time it is given. There is no guarantee that the advice will be relevant if there have been significant changes in either planning policy or the site and its surroundings by the time a formal application is received. Circumstances and policies can change in very short periods of time and it is therefore impossible to give an indication of how long any advice given will remain relevant. Subject to this proviso, any pre-application advice given will be taken into account when determining the application
  • advice is without the involvement of external consultees, neighbours or other interested parties and generally without the benefit of a site visit. The views given are therefore the personal opinion of planning officers and are not a formal decision of, nor are they binding, on the local planning authority. The accuracy of advice given will be dependent on the quality and completeness of your pre-application submission and the questions you ask. You may be asked to provide additional information to enable a meaningful response
  • where pre-application advice is not followed, subsequent planning applications are likely to be determined without further negotiations
  • much of the information you need relating to the submission of an application is available on our website. We receive a high volume of calls so please consider checking the website for assistance before contacting us

Benefits and details of the service provided

  • consistency in dealing with your pre-application submission and any subsequent applications for planning permission (subject to the above provisos)
  • confirmation of the type of application you should submit, and what supporting documentation you will need to supply with it (verification of the list of local and national requirements that the Planning Department will require in order to validate your application). This will reduce the likelihood of submitting invalid applications, saving time and expense
  • information on key planning policies and previous planning decisions for similar projects
  • it explains how planning policies, constraints and other requirements affect your proposals
  • it identifies at an early stage any need for specialist input (e.g. listed buildings, conservation areas, ecology, trees, noise, health, highway issues).
  • it gives an indication of the likely requirement for contributions to be made by a developer (e.g. levels of affordable housing, CIL or any other payments).
  • it will help you to submit a complete and accurate application for planning permission which complies with the relevant policies, plans and guidance. Provided you take all the advice into account, it should be possible to determine your application in a shorter timescale
  • advice in relation to all relevant planning matters and the planning merits of the proposal.
  • guidance on how the quality of the proposal could be improved
  • it establishes whether a proposal is completely unacceptable which in turn may influence your decision whether to pursue the matter any further and hence save you the time and the full expense of submitting all the documents required for a planning application

The service will not provide

  • detailed technical advice
  • a plan drawing/design service
  • feedback from outside organisations that we may consult with at the planning application stage (we will give you details of such organisations who you may wish to contact directly)
  • feedback from neighbouring residents or other interested parties that may be notified of your proposals at the planning application stage
  • confirmation that your proposal meets permitted development legislation.

How the Pre-application Service Works

  • you will need to submit a pre-application request form and make the payment as required in the Fees Schedule. If you are unsure about the fee payable you may submit your request and we will contact you to confirm the amount owing. We will not start to work on the case until we have received the fee
  • we will write to you within 5 working days to acknowledge your request and give you a reference number
  • we will carry out research and may visit the site
  • we will seek the views of specialist officers within the authority dealing with matters such as conservation, environmental health and tree issues, as appropriate
  • we will not carry out consultations with external organisations (Dorset County Highways, Environment Agency, Natural England etc)
  • for written advice, we will endeavour to respond within 15 working days of receipt of the required fee and/or any additional information we have requested from you
  • for the meeting/written response option the case officer will normally contact you within 10 working days to arrange a site visit and/or the initial meeting. Following this meeting you will receive a written response within 20 working days confirming the advice given (unless the complexity of the case requires a specific time frame to be agreed with the applicant)
  • the written response will include an outline of any actions you may need to take in order to make your formal planning application valid, give details of any groups or organisations we think you may need to consult with, and provide an officer level opinion on the acceptability of your proposals

If you require further specialist advice or wish to submit a revised pre-application proposal following our full written response to your enquiry, a further pre-application enquiry application and fee will need to be submitted and depending upon the proposal we may arrange a meeting/further meeting. We will go through the same procedures as outlined above.

Information/documents you need to provide

The more information you give us about what you want to do, the more valuable and precise our advice will be. The following items are mandatory should you wish to use the pre-application advice service. 

  • a completed and signed 'Request for Planning Advice' form, containing:
    1. clear address for the site, preferably with the postcode
    2. brief description of what you want to do (e.g. Single storey rear extension; raise roof and insert two dormer windows)
    3. confirmation of the advice level you require (letter or meeting and letter)
    4. the relevant fee to cover our costs of providing your advice
  • sketched / scaled plan showing where your proposal would be on the site (NB these will be needed for most enquiry types)
  • plans of what you want to do, no bigger than A3. These can be provided in sketch form, although plans drawn to metric scale with a scale bar on each page are helpful (NB these will be needed for most enquiry types)
  • photographs showing the key features of the site and any neighbouring properties (it is helpful to show trees on adjacent sites and how the boundaries are marked)
  • a list of any key issues on which you require a specific response

Payment can be made before submitting your request or when you receive confirmation after submitting your form. Fees are non-refundable. The fee needs to be paid before a request for pre-application advice will be processed.

Fees

Fees

Meeting (with letter) 

Fee (VAT inc)

Significant majors

£600 per hour

Majors

£400 per hour

Minors

£200 (for 30 minute meeting)

Others

£100 (for 30 minute meeting)

Fees

Letter (no meeting)

Fee (VAT inc.)

Minors

£150

Others

£75

Planning history of a site 

£40

CIL calculation

£75

Definitions:

Significant Majors are defined as:

  • 40 dwellings or more
  • 1500 square metres floor space new build or conversion
  • outline proposals capable of accommodating either of the above

Major proposals are defined as:

  • 10 to 39 dwellings
  • 1000 to 1499 square metres floor space new build or conversion
  • outline proposals capable of accommodating either of the above

Minor proposals are defined as:

  • 1 to 9 dwellings
  • up to 999 square metres floor space new build or conversion (including extensions to shops, offices, etc)
  • outline proposals capable of accommodating either of the above
  • other proposals are defined as
  • extensions and works to dwellings and flats (including garages and outbuildings)
  • extensions and alterations to curtilages of dwellings
  • outbuildings, fences etc
  • proposals for works to Listed Buildings (that do not involve any development that falls under the Significant, Major and Minor definitions above);
  • advertisements
  • installation of dropped kerbs and the formation of an access to a dwelling

Exemptions to paying a pre-application advice fee

  • no fee will be charged for Parish/Town Councils, Charities and Voluntary Groups who are not represented by a planning agent/architect/etc
  • the fee for a householder proposal relating to works required for a person(s) with a disability will be waived, subject to us receiving the appropriate documentation in addition to the application form, and subject to the proposal being required to create an access and/or provide for improved safety, health or comfort
  • we have discretion to alter the fee for individual cases where specific circumstances apply

What is included in the above fees?

  • the fee constitutes the payment for planning advice from a qualified Planning Officer and a letter summarising the officer view
  • please note that there are additional charges for additional follow-up meetings, for example, should you wish to discuss amendments made in light of Officer's original pre-application advice) and for post-decision advice following the grant or refusal of a planning application that requires a meeting or a written response

Points to note

  • only basic general advice (for example where to find application forms or means of online advice) will be available without going through the formal pre-application process
  • all pre-application fees levied by we are in addition to any that are charged by external consultees
  • where applicable, meetings will be held on site or in the council offices. This will be agreed between the case officer and the applicant
  • advice on applications for third parties cannot be provided by our Planning Officers

Confidentiality

We are subject to requirements under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Where we receive a request to disclose any information in relation to a pre-application discussion, we will notify and consult with you concerning its possible release. However, we reserve the right to disclose any such information we deem appropriate and are responsible for determining at our absolute discretion whether the information is exempt from disclosure in accordance with the FOIA or EIR.

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