Pre-application engagement by applicants can offer significant potential to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system as well as improve the quality of planning applications and their likelihood of success. It can assist in establishing timescales and explain administrative processes as well as reduce delays through early engagement of key parties.
All requests for pre-application advice must be made using our application form (PDF 288kb). You must provide the minimum level of information set out in the form to ensure that timely advice can be given.
You can email your application to email@example.com or send it to us at our main office.
Urban Design Advice
We have an agreement with an external body to provide bespoke design advice on appropriate schemes at an extra cost to the pre-application and planning performance agreements (PPA) charges. You can view the fee schedules for bespoke design advice here (PDF 594kb). Fees in respect of design advice are also payable upfront.
Status of the advice
Pre-application advice does not constitute a formal or guaranteed outcome in the determination of a future planning application or other form of submission. Any views or opinions expressed are given in good faith, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application, which will be subject to a period of public consultation and maybe decided at a Planning Committee.
Applications submitted without prior pre-application discussions and that require significant amendments to make the development acceptable are likely to be refused.
Any fee paid to the council is non-refundable and does not represent a legal contract with the council. This advice is based on the available documentation submitted. If further documents and amended proposals are later provided in response to the concerns raised herein, this may incur an additional fee.
Unfortunately, the council cannot comment or make observations on the highway implications of proposed development or change of use. This is because the Hertfordshire County Council are the highway authority and statutory consultee on all planning applications with highway implications in accordance with the provisions in the Town & Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order. Hertfordshire County Council Highways (Development Control) has a design guide and planning obligations toolkit. They also encourage pre-application communication. To speak to them call 0300 123 4047.
Flood Risk, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems and Other Matters
We are also unable to comment in respect to flood risk and flooding implications. The Environment Agency is a statutory consultee on developments and changes of use within or adjacent to flood zones as are the County Council, in their role as the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA). The County Council also provide expert advice on matters of archaeology and ecology issues. Prospective applicants and developers are informed that some of these statutory bodies have their own charging schedules for pre-application engagement. Some commentary on the Environment Agency’s own pre and post application advice service is viewable here.
Freedom of Information
Although we do not automatically publicise the details of pre-application discussions, under the Freedom of Information Act we may from time to time receive requests to provide information regarding enquiries for pre-application advice and of any advice given. Subject to certain exemptions, we are obliged to provide this information, although personal details are protected under the Data Protection Act and are likely to be removed before disclosure.
The exemptions relate to commercially sensitive and confidential information. It is therefore important that you notify the council at the outset in writing of any information which you consider may, if disclosed, prejudice your commercial interests or which you consider would breach confidentiality. You should also set out the reasons why and for what period you consider the information falls within these parameters. It is then for us to decide whether we believe the information falls into these exempt categories, if a Freedom of Information request is subsequently received.
We may also treat as exempt from disclosure information which, if disclosed, may prejudice the effective conduct of the council as a civic authority. This can be particularly relevant at the outset of major applications where a degree of exploratory discussion takes place. If the disclosure of this exploratory information would be likely to prejudice the process of determination of the subsequent planning application, then it may not be disclosable.
Setting aside these exemptions any other recorded information resulting from these pre-application discussions and advice is very likely to be disclosable.