Pre-application protocol

Pre-application discussions are widely acknowledged as being beneficial to the planning/development management process, as they ensure both developers and local planning authorities understand the mutual objectives and constraints that exist in bringing forward a particular development proposal.

Find out more using the links below:

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Why do a pre-app?

Pre-application discussions can aim to improve the efficiency and certainty of outcomes within the development management system. This is acknowledged in “10 Commitments for Effective Pre-application Engagement” (British Property Federation, Jan 2014).

This protocol sets out the principles behind our pre-application system, including commitments than can be expected from our officers and what information and fees, where applicable, are required from the developer in engaging in pre-application discussion.

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Commitments

It is important to realise that effective pre-application discussion will only be achieved where there is commitment from both the developer and us.

As the Local Planning Authority we seek to provide a consistent and fair approach to pre-application discussions in relation to all forms of planning proposals. It will furthermore commit to the following elements in providing pre-application advice:

  • Provide a named point of contact who will lead on the pre-application discussion. 
  • Arrange meetings, where requested and provide timely information.
  • Involve, where possible, other key consultees in discussions.
  • Seek to identify key issues or constraints relevant to the proposal.
  • Undertake a review of relevant planning history related to the site.
  • Provide advice on groups or organisations that you may wish to additional consult as part of the pre-application consultation.
  • Ensure that negotiations and discussions involve the right staff and we provide a coordinated view.
  • Identify any information that will be required for the planning application.
  • Provide a written response to the pre-application query in a timely manner.
  • Where requested, provide guidance on the determination process including a guide to the timescales within which an application will be determined.

The Developer will be expected to:

Provide information in advance for consideration/discussion- this should include;

  • location plan;
  • layout plan (preferably to scale)
  • description of the proposals, including dimensions
  • Note of any existing features or buildings within the site i.e. trees or water courses.
  • Any required fee (see schedule of fees for pre-application advice) 

Additional information can also be submitted i.e. plans of the existing site/land use and sketches/plans of the proposed form of development. The more information provided can ensure we provide a more accurate response.

The Developer shall also:

  • Allow time/resources to engage in discussions.
  • Respond within any mutually agreed timescales.
  • Attend meetings or allow site access where required.  
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Our approach and timescales

We acknowledge pre-app requests and assign an appropriate seniority of officer, depending on the scale and nature of the proposal, within 5-working days.

If a meeting has been requested, then you will be contacted within 5-working days to arrange a date for the meeting. The allocated case officer will meet with you, in addition to other relevant parties, depending on the scale and nature of the proposal.  More strategic major proposals will follow our Development Team Approach, which includes member involvement.

The schedule of charges for pre-application discussion, set out below, indicates the number of meetings that will be included within the fee. If further meetings are requested then additional charges will apply, which will be payable in advance of the meeting/s.

A written response will be provided. Normally, in the case where no meeting is required, the written advice will be provided within 15-working days of receipt of request.  If a meeting is requested/ undertaken a response will be provided within 10 working days of the meeting; unless an alternative timescale has been agreed. We will endeavour to meet these timescales, although there may be certain occasions when circumstances prevent this.  If this should occur, then we will update you with a revised target date to provide the advice.

We would be willing to consider the merits of a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) for major planning applications.  For further information on this please contact a member of the development control team.

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Development team approach

The council operates a development team approach (DTA) in relation to major proposals.  Find out more.

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Member involvement in pre-application discussions

In December 2013, we adopted a protocol for member engagement in pre-application planning discussions in relation to the following proposals:  

  • 50+ dwellings or more
  • 10,000sqm of industrial, commercial ore retail floor space
  • Where there is wide corporate involvement by the District Council
  • Development of strategic significance e.g. wider regeneration benefits or transport infrastructure

These criteria could be reduced for development in villages, neighbourhoods or the rural area for ‘locally significant or controversial’ schemes, such as small housing development (under 50 dwellings) or a wind farm.

In case such as the above, all Ward Members will be invited to a Project Team Meeting along with the Cabinet Member and Planning Committee Chairman or Vice Chairman in addition to officers of the Development Team.

Please refer to Protocol for Councillor Engagement in Pre-application Planning Discussions for more detail on this.

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Advice without prejudice

It is to be appreciated that pre-application advice is given without prejudice and given on the basis of the information provided by you/the developer.  The advice given cannot provide an undertaking that planning permission will be granted.  This is because pre-application advice is given prior to carrying out of full formal consultations and is an officer opinion only, and so cannot constitute a formal response or decision from the Council.  It is to be appreciated that some applications will be determined by Planning Committee, and members although expected to determine applications on planning grounds, are not obliged to adopt or follow the advice given by their officers.

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Pre-application charges

Find out more about our pre-app charges and exemptions

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Feedback & advice  

Should you require further advice on submitting a pre-application query or wish to provide any feedback on the process or service provided, please email our development control team at devcontrol@lichfielddc.gov.uk.


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