Importance of Pre Application Advice

P.P.S. has long recognised the benefit of making carefully crafted pre-planning applications to Local Authorities.

Whilst there is generally a charge, this application at first instance sets out the Local Planning Authority’s attitude to the opportunities and constraints of any development proposal. Most Authorities offer a standard format, nevertheless this does not usually tease out the pertinent planning issues or the surveys that will be required to support any application, e.g. Ecology, Highways, Conservation and others.

Whilst Local Authorities generally impose a charge for pre-applications, these set out the Local Authority’s attitude to the opportunities and constraints of any development proposal. Many Local Planning Authorities offer a standard form to download from their website, nevertheless these often do not allow a pre-applicant to fully tease out all relevant planning issues or studies and surveys that must be provided to support a planning application.

P.P.S. has carefully crafted a Special Questionnaire for pre-applications in an attempt to obtain more realistic responses from the Planning Department. P.P.S. also re-asks questions when the L.P.A.’s answers are incomplete or, as in some cases when answers may be open to varied interpretation.

If a pre-application is not made, a Local Planning Authority may regard this as an obstacle if an application is submitted.

The value of pre-apps is that LPA’s set out those specialist reports that will be required by them prior to validating any planning application. These reports often relate to Flood Risk Assessment, Heritage and Conservation, virtually always Biodiversity checklists or Ecological Phase 1 Assessments are necessary and if trees are on site, more often than not, an Arboricultural Study is required.

In tandem enquiries should also be made with regard to both foul sewage, surface water and drainage disposal. P.P.S. carry out these tasks with the appropriate Statutory Undertakers and orchestrate searches with the relevant service providers. There may be unanticipated requirements for reports, e.g. noise attenuation, potential land contamination or indeed air quality.

The pre-app should also obtain advice from the Local Highways Authority as to access and egress proposals, highways safety, vehicular movements and prescribed visibility splays.

P.P.S. Ltd works in association with a range of specialist Third Party Report providers in relation
to all Planning Application requirements. Most importantly as follows;

  • Landscape and Visual Impact Assessments
  • Ecological Phase 1 Studies
  • Heritage and Conservation Reports
  • Traffic Impact Assessments
  • Flood Risk Assessments
  • Sustainable Urban Drainage
  • Foul Sewage and Percolation Test requirements
  • Contaminated Land Studies
  • Ground conditions to invasive investigation

Some of these reports will be a pre-requirement to the validation of any submitted planning application and must be commissioned at the earliest stages.

Equally, some may be required later on in the application process to satisfy pre-commencement conditions attached to any planning permission, i.e. those actions that must be undertaken on site to the LPA written satisfaction prior to commencement of the development and, more often than not, other specialist reports will need to be available in relation to pre occupancy conditions, e.g. when any property that is part of a single or indeed larger development is to be occupied. These conditions will often require completed highways, parking and drainage works.

A professionally prepared pre-app. will flag up any previous planning history of the site, what car parking requirements may be for a development proposal and, but most
importantly as to whether the Local Authority has a five-year housing land supply. If a five-year housing land supply is not apparent, various development proposals, particularly in rural areas, may be more favourably accepted by the LPA. This has certainly been true in the Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire areas of the mid Shires and continues to be so.

There is always the prospect of financial contributions having to be paid under a Section 106 Agreement or an increasing utilisation of Community Infrastructure Levy, when permission is granted. Eventually all types of developments will be required to make a financial contribution, in terms of square metres built, to the Local District Council.

It is early days with regard to CIL, nevertheless if the possibility of financial payments is canvassed by a pre application submission the likely quantum of them will be known. Again this highlights the importance of proper pre application researches.

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