Contacting us before formally submitting a planning application can be critically important. It should provide you with a clear understanding of development objectives and constraints, as well as provide an opportunity for wider engagement, where appropriate, with other stakeholders, including the local community.
All requests for pre-application advice must be made using our application form. 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.
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. Fees in respect of design advice are also payable upfront.
Changes to our schedule of fees for pre-application advice and planning performance agreements (PPA) takes effect from 6 April 2017. See the Pre-application advice and planning performance agreement service document for details.
Pre-application engagement can:
- Identify opportunities for scheme improvements at a stage when a proposal can still be modified, resulting in higher quality developments.
- Significantly increase the likelihood of gaining planning permission.
- Allow more opportunity to co-ordinate investment.
- Help to communicate the vision and objectives for the area.
- Develop a shared understanding of constraints, opportunities and context.
- Agree information requirements and identify schemes which are unlikely to be supported.
- Establish timescales and explain administrative processes.
- Reduce delays through early engagement of key parties.
Some householder development work does not require planning permission, or is classed as permitted development. Use the Planning Portal Interactive House for guidance on many common householder projects.
Status of the advice
Pre-application advice possibly forms a material consideration of a formal planning application, it 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 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.
What you can expect from pre-application engagement
Each pre-application advice request would be the subject of a detailed site inspection by the appointed case officer. In most cases, this will be followed up by a report or letter.
The assessment of pre-application proposals is similar to that of a formal planning application. Due consideration is given to the relevant provisions in the Planning Acts, particularly:
Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 which states that “If regard is to be had to the development plan for the purposes of any determination to be made under the Planning Acts, the determination must be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise”.
In the light of this statutory provision, the pre-application advice / report will set out the development plan policies that are relevant to the proposals. The report will also set out the main issues raised by the proposals. Each issue will be addressed in turn, its relationship to the relevant development plan policies explained and given careful consideration. The issues will only cover matters which are within the remit of the Council, which, amongst other matters include:
In the first instance, whether or not it is in conformity with the development plan;
The merits / demerits of the design and layout of the proposed development and the effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area; and
The effect on the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers etc.
The pre-application report will also set out the relevant adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance Notes (SPG) and Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) as well as the likely planning obligations heads of terms and the documents to accompany a formal planning application.
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. Until a formal application is submitted, their views on this matter cannot be sought. Nonetheless, the pre-application letter will include details of the County Council contact(s) to whom all enquiries should be directed.
The same applies to flood risk, flooding implications, archaeological impact, ecological and wildlife impact. The Environment Agency are also a statutory consultee on developments and changes of use within or adjacent to flood zones as are the County Council, who are the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).
Prospective applicants and developers are informed that some of these statutory bodies have their own charging schedules for pre-application engagement.
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.
Other available pre-application advice
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.
Our information on dropped kerbs and cross-overs gives an overview of what you need to know if you would like to have a kerb lowered (also known as a vehicle crossover) to enable you to drive your vehicle across a footway and / or verge onto your property.
There are also other statutory bodies which you may wish to consult with about your proposal:
We have duty officers available to help you either by phone or in person at our main office or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, our planning duty officer service will be changing from 20 July 2017. You will be able to contact the Duty Planner between the hours of 9am and 1pm Monday and Friday.