Whilst there is no statutory requirement to seek pre application advice, Local Authorities can play an important role in helping applicants get their proposals right, through meetings and discussions before an application is made.
Prospective applicants, developers and professional advisers should normally make an appointment to see the case officer for the application area to ensure that such discussions are of maximum value. Simple enquiries can be dealt with by telephone.
The advice given will be accurate and objective but will be without prejudice to the formal consideration of an application by the council. We will give you information about relevant planning policies and previous decisions and, where appropriate, our standards for such matters as parking provision, amenity space etc. We will also advise you about the likely time scale for dealing with a planning application and the procedures to follow.
In determining your application the council will have regard to the Council's planning policies and the planning constraints relating to the site.
Advice notes are available on how to make a planning application, together with copies of the council's planning policies and other relevant documents, as well as general booklets on the development control system. You can also see copies of earlier decisions on similar applications in the area on this site. Wherever possible we will advise you on other approvals or consents which you may need.
It is important that you provide accurate drawings with sufficient detail and to a recognisable scale. It can also often be helpful if you discuss your proposal informally with your neighbours before you make your application.
Should you wish to seek confirmation on whether a proposal requires planning permission, you should complete and return the Householder Development Preliminary Enquiry Form.
Major Developments or Special Projects
In respect of larger, more complicated schemes, it is highly recommended (and common practice) that developers enter into negotiations with the Planning Department prior to submitting an application.
Negotiation in relation to these schemes is likely to continue after the submission of the application until the application has been decided. These applications often require extensive supporting information which will normally include an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Proposals which are likely to give rise to significant environmental effects must be accompanied by an environmental statement. This looks at the potential environmental effects of the proposals and the scope for modifying them or mitigating them. It is at the pre-application stage that consideration of the need for an EIA should take place.
The formal process undertaken by the planning authority in determining whether an EIA is required is known as a "screening opinion". In the event of an EIA being required then a second process, known as a "scoping exercise" is carried out to determine the exact content of the resulting Environmental Statement (this is the document generated following the EIA process).
The EIA is an important method of assessing the likely environmental effects of a new development. The preparation of an Environmental Statement ensures that the impacts of a development are fully understood and taken into account before the development is allowed to proceed.
Retrospective Planning Applications
Applications for retrospective planning permission are applications for development which have taken place, where building works have been started or completed, or the use of the property has been changed before the necessary planning permission has been obtained. The Planning Act allows a person who has carried out the development, the opportunity to regularise the unauthorised development by applying retrospectively for planning permission.
In considering retrospective applications, the Council should consider the proposal on the basis as if the development had not already taken place and should not in determining the application be swayed in either way by the fact that the development has already taken place. The application should only be considered on its planning merits against adopted planning policies and other material planning considerations. Planning Permission should not be refused just because the development is in its present state, unauthorised and permission should not be granted just because the development is already there and it would be too onerous or expensive for the applicant to remove or alter it, even if it is contrary to planning policy.
As with any other planning application, the Council may impose conditions on retrospective applications. It may be that such conditions can help to remedy any perceived problems with the development, without the need for demolition or other more drastic action.
A retrospective planning application requires the same application fee as the equivalent application for proposed development.
Although planning law allows people to make retrospective planning applications an owner or developer should never rely on a retrospective planning application to get unauthorised development approved. Anyone doing this is taking a considerable risk and could face the prospect of formal enforcement action. Further, where a failure to comply whether in all or part of the requirements of the enforcement action occurs, prosecution could follow and upon conviction, the imposition of a penalty.
Our Enforcement officers will only invite an owner or developer to make a retrospective application if they consider that there may be a realistic prospect that planning permission would be granted for the development either in its existing or in a modified form. However, our enforcement officers can only advise on this. The retrospective application will be dealt with by one of our planning officers in exactly the same way that they deal with any application for planning permission.