Pre-Planning Advice

At Planning By Design we understand that most of our clients may only consider planning permission once or twice in their lifetime and appreciate how complex planning permission is, which is why we are here to help you with expert pre-planning advice!

Before commencing any project, most of our customers ask us the same questions which are;

  • Is my project feasible?
  • Do I need planning permission?
  • What is required to apply for planning permission?
  • What is the process to apply for planning permission?
  • How long will it take to get planning permission?
  • How likely is the council to grant planning approval?
  • What happens if planning permission is refused?
  • How much will it cost?

These are exactly the right questions to ask and it is very important to get the answers before either proceeding with a planning application or starting construction.

Photo by Jonas Leupe

Do You Need Pre-Planning Advice?

Pre-planning advice, also known as pre-application advice, is not mandatory but is strongly recommended to limit your risk and expense. After all who wants to pay for architect drawings or apply for planning permission for something that isn't feasible? In order to obtain planning advice for your proposed development you have two options, you can contact your local planning authority or a town planner. You might have already tried to reach out to your local council and realised that it can be difficult to speak to someone. Even if you do manage to get in touch, they will require you to submit a formal pre-application with drawings and a detailed written proposal before they can provide feedback. Seeking professional advice through your council's pre-application service or from an RTPI town planner can help speed up the planning process as any potential problems can be highlighted before you submit an application.

Option 1: Pre-Application

To submit a pre-application for any type of development you will require drawings including elevations, floor plans, block plans and a site location plan, to show the property before and after the proposed development. You will also require a detailed written proposal. You will then need to submit the online form and pay the relevant fee, depending on the type of development. If your proposal is vague or lacks the required detail then you can expect an equally vague and unhelpful response from your council. It typically takes 4 to 8 weeks to get a response to a pre-application. It's important to bear in mind a pre-application does not grant any approval or pre-approval. It will simply be a written response to advise whether permission is likely to be required, what would be required to support a planning application, and an indication of whether in principle it is likely to be approved or not. Many councils are significantly backlogged and have removed their pre-application advice service. The cost of a pre-application varies depending on the project type, size and local authority fees. For smaller schemes such as residential developments, the cost is up to £600, although it can be a lot more for multiple dwellings or large commercial developments. To view an example pre-application click here.

Option 2: Planning Appraisal

Alternatively, one of our RTPI-accredited town planners can conduct a Planning Appraisal where we do the same checks as your council, including checking the relevant planning policies, planning history, and any planning constraints at the site address. The difference is that you don't need architect drawings or a detailed written proposal and we can give you the answers in a day rather than 8 weeks. First, one of our town planners will do the research, which usually takes an hour or more. Then you will have a telephone consultation with the town planner, which is usually about 15-30 minutes, depending on how complex your project is and how many questions you have. At the end of the call, you will know whether your project is feasible, assuming it is, whether it needs any kind of permission, the likelihood of success, requirements and timescales for the process. One advantage of seeking pre-application planning advice is that it allows you to make informed decisions regarding any potential need for additional information. This may include specialist reports, extra planning statements, or supplementary drawings, which could potentially increase costs or cause delays. By having all the necessary facts beforehand, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises throughout the process.

Feasibility Report & Quote

Following the telephone consultation your town planner will write a detailed feasibility report with all the findings, recommended course of action, and the likelihood of success. This will include the project brief, the site location, local authority, relevant planning history, planning constraints, what will be required to submit a planning application and importantly the likelihood of success. Our town planners are all RTPI accredited and therefore obliged to give you frank and honest advice, which will be detailed in the feasibility report. If your project is high risk or not possible we will let you know and equally if it has a strong chance of being approved you will be able to move forward with confidence. Once we know exactly what is required, assuming your project is feasible, the feasibility report will be sent together with an accurate quote for anything you need, including architect drawings and/or planning application. We hope that your project will be feasible but if not, it's always better to find out before paying for drawings or an application. All of our quotes are backed by our price match guarantee and we will beat any like-for-like quote.

Chartered Architects

It is important to note that architects are normally only qualified in design, so pre-planning advice should only be sought from a qualified RTPI town planner. However, should you decide to move forward with your project our in-house chartered architects can produce all the required drawings you need for your project. Architectural design is very personal, so first we make sure we clearly understand exactly what you are hoping to achieve. Our architects will then produce the drawings in line with your brief. For planning applications only 2D drawings are required however, we can also produce 3D drawings, realistic 3D renders and interior design. Once planning permission is approved we can also help with building regulations, structural engineering calculations, and BIM models if required. The drawings produced will reflect your design brief and in most cases few if any revisions are required. However, if you do want to make any changes we will take care of this for you and will only move on to the next stage once you are 100% happy and approve the design.

Chartered Town Planners

Once you approve the architectural design, one of our town planners will check the drawings to make sure there are no obvious issues from a planning point of view. If there are any potential issues, we'll raise these and suggest alternative solutions. They will then write the required planning statement(s) and supporting evidence to clearly justify why, based on the relevant planning policies, your application should be approved. With your approval, your town planner will submit and manage your application through to determination. During the process, it is common for councils to request additional information or minor design changes in order to avoid a refusal. Your town planner will liaise between you and the planning officer, taking care of anything required throughout the collaborative process. Without the help of a town planner, your design might look fantastic but may not meet the required planning policies. Additionally, even if your design is appropriate, if this is not clearly demonstrated with strong supporting evidence your application would be at risk of an unnecessary refusal. This is why we have both architects and town planners in-house working together on every application to ensure the best chance of success.

Need pre-planning advice, architect drawings or planning permission?

Contact us now for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your project.