It is often a good idea to meet a planning officer for an informal discussion before you submit an application. Pre-application advice will assist you in preparing your proposal for formal submission and may highlight issues with it at an early stage, saving you time and money in the long run.
Most Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) charge for this service so it’s a good idea to check first. Information about the costs of advice can be found on the relevant LPA's website.
It is helpful to review, with the planning officer, the type of plans and other supporting information you may need to submit with your application. These can usually be found on the “national validation requirements” and “local validation criteria” documents, which should be provided on the authority’s website.
Such pre-application advice can provide an opportunity for you to understand:
- The policies that apply to your proposal
- whether there will be a need for specialist input (for example, you may impact on listed buildings, trees, ecology or archaeology)
- what documents the LPA may need to make the application valid
- whether any other matters may need to be addressed (such as design)
If you meet a planning officer you should be prepared to describe your proposals and/or show plans. You could:
- ask for an assessment of whether there seems a reasonable chance of getting permission
- discuss any issues relating to the site
- ask about potential problems, for example, noise and traffic issues and whether the authority might impose conditions to overcome these problems rather than refuse your application.
It is helpful if you can take some photographs of the site and neighbouring properties along to the meeting. The level of preparation required will depend on the complexity of your proposal. In simple cases it should be sufficient to look at the main issues governing the grant of permission, such as conformity with local planning policies or whether similar development has been undertaken nearby, and decide which of these are relevant to your application.