Pre-application advice

It can be very helpful to get advice about your planning proposals before submitting your actual application. This might involve meeting with us or just sending us your proposals for us to comment on. This can help to overcome potential difficulties and help you to deal with the main planning considerations.

We offer several different ways to get the advice you need:

House extensions

This service provides written advice about alterations proposed to an existing dwelling or the erection or alteration of residential outbuildings. We will not normally carry out any consultation and no meetings are provided. We aim to provide our written advice to you within eight weeks of the request. During periods of high demand this may take longer.

Service level 1 – informal meeting

This service provides you with an informal discussion with a planning officer. The level of advice offered is restricted to discussing the main issues that become apparent to the planning officer during the meeting. Due to the informal nature of the service any advice given is provided verbally only and will hold no weight during the determination of a formal planning application. No advice will be given about whether planning permission is required.

Meetings will normally be held at council offices and the planning officer attending will not normally carry out any preparation by, for example, researching the history of the site. Meetings normally last about 30 minutes and no longer than one hour. We will contact you to arrange a date for the meeting which will normally be within four weeks of the request. During periods of high demand this may take longer. It is recommended that, after the meeting, you seek further pre-application advice at service levels 2 or 3.

This service is not available in relation for householder schemes (proposals to extend or alter an existing dwelling), except for requests that solely seek advice about how to preserve the historic character of a listed building.

Service level 2 – in principle

This service provides written advice that is more limited than that provided by service level 3. The advice offered is restricted to scoping the main issues and matters of general planning principle, such as the suitability of the site, in planning policy terms, for the type of development. For this reason, visits to the site are not normally undertaken, no detailed elements of the scheme (such as design, ecology, flooding or highways matters) will be considered, no consultation will be carried out and no meetings are offered.

This service is not provided for householder schemes (proposals to extend or alter an existing dwelling), except for requests that solely seek advice about how to preserve the historic character of listed building.

We aim to provide our written advice to you within eight weeks of the request. During periods of high demand this may take longer.

Service level 3 – enhanced

This service provides a more considered view compared to levels 1 and 2. It gives more detailed advice in writing about what we consider to be the main issues relating to the development. Internal consultation may be undertaken with specialist services but is limited to our consideration of the main issues. Unaccompanied site visits may also be undertaken at our discretion. Consulted responses from external partners such as Historic England, the Environment Agency or Wessex Water are not included.

This service is not provided for householder schemes (proposals to extend or alter an existing dwelling), except for requests that solely seek advice about how to preserve the historic character of listed building.

We aim to provide our written advice to you within eight weeks of the request. During periods of high demand this may take longer.

Pre-application advice forum (PAF)

Our PAF service forms part of service level 3 for large-scale applications. We will contact you to arrange a meeting with the forum within two weeks of your request. The PAF process typically takes eight weeks but on agreement with the applicant, this can be extended. To discuss how the PAF process can help your project contact us so that we can arrange an introductory meeting.

Additional meetings

Additional meetings can only be requested in relation to existing and ongoing requests for pre-application advice at service level 3 or within six months of a decision we have issued in relation to a formal planning application. The fee needs to be paid when submitting the request for the meeting. Additional meetings are normally limited to two meetings.

Before you apply for pre-application advice

  • we reserve the right to not accept requests for pre-application advice
  • requests for advice will not be accepted or considered until the following has been submitted
    • a pre-application request application form completed in full
    • a location plan at a scale of 1:1250 or 1:2500 with the site edged red
    • photographs of the site
    • the required fee
  • the advice given, whether in writing or verbally, is based on the information you provide to us.
  • the advice given, whether in writing or verbally, is the informal opinion of the officers of the council only and does not fetter or prejudice our statutory duty, as the local planning authority, to determine formal planning and other applications, pursuant to our statutory powers and duties under the planning acts or otherwise.
  • you need to act upon the advice we give within six months since changes to planning policy, interpretation of policy or any other relevant issues can result in advice becoming out of date.
  • when you are unable to act quickly on the advice given, we recommend that you submit a new request for further advice – standard fees will apply.
  • we may share and discuss your proposal with local councillors, town or parish councils or other statutory consultees.
  • we may share the advice we provide with other developers, separately from the details of your request.
  • we may share your request for advice and the advice we provide following a request made they under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • we do not normally place requests for pre-application advice on our website unless:
    • a related formal planning application is received
    • we consider it to be in the public interest
  • before sending us a request for pre-application advice you should read our privacy statement

Apply for pre-application advice

To apply for pre-application advice you’ll need to pay the relevant fee and then download and complete our application form.

find out about pre-application advice fees

You should pay the fee before completing the form. You can pay the fee using our online planning payment form. When it asks what service you want to pay for, select ‘pay fee for advice about if you will get permission’.

pay for pre-application advice

When you’ve paid the fee and completed the pre-application form you’ll need to send it to us along with photographs of the site and a location plan (at a scale of 1:1250 or 1:12500 with the site edged in red) using our contact us about planning form. The photographs and location plan are essential to your application.

We also provide a separate service to help you submit a valid application.

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