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Guidance note

Charging for pre-application advice

With effect from 1 April 2021

1) Background

This guidance note explains how Wyre Forest District Council will handle requests for pre-application and other planning advice and is intended for anyone who uses the service.

Wyre Forest District Council is able to provide you with advice and information on matters relating to planning. In order to provide the best possible advice and information within an appropriate timescale, however, it is important that you also provide the Council with as much clear information as possible regarding your proposed ‘development’.

In the case of pre-application advice, the service is intended to provide you with an indication as to whether your proposal is likely to gain planning permission or not; what the key planning issues are likely to be; and, what you would need to submit with any subsequent application that you make.

In the case of advice in respect of permitted development rights, the service is intended to provide you with an officer opinion as to whether planning permission is required for your proposals. However, it should be noted that this is informal advice and as such does not have the same status as a Certificate of Lawfulness.

The revised charges set out under Section 6 of this guidance note will apply to all enquiries received on or after 1st April 2020, and are inclusive of VAT which currently stands at 20%.

Your attention is drawn to the new tariff of charges within this guidance note.

Please also note the timeframes for providing advice.

2) Benefits of service

The Council encourages and welcomes the opportunity to provide advice and guidance before any formal planning application is made. There are considerable benefits in seeking planning advice before making an application:

  • It gives an opportunity to establish how local policies would apply to your development;
  • It can establish whether planning permission will actually be required or not;
  • It can identify at an early stage where there is a need for specialist input (e.g. trees, listed buildings, noise, transport, contaminated land, etc);
  • It gives an opportunity to clarify what supporting documentation will be required for your proposal ;
  • It provides an opportunity to identify possible major concerns before too much work is expended on development proposals.

Pre-application engagement and frontloading is encouraged by Government as set out within the National Planning Policy Framework.

3) Permitted Development (PD) Enquiries

These are enquiries that establish whether you need to make a planning application or not. Permitted Development (PD) Rights can be an area on which you may require guidance from a planning officer. PD Rights are granted by the statutory planning framework, and allow some limited development to occur without the need to apply for planning permission. If you wish to check whether your proposal benefits from PD Rights or whether planning permission is required, then you should submit a PD enquiry. You can also request a form from The Hub. 

If completed fully, this should provide officers with all the information needed in order to be able to advise you, but some further clarification or additional information may be necessary.

What do you need to provide?

  • Completed form;
  • Sketch drawings of floor plans and appearance;
  • Photographs of the site if available.

What service will be provided?

  • Cases will be allocated to an appropriate case officer to respond.
  • We will aim to provide a written response within 15 working days;
  • You will receive confirmation as to whether you need to make an application for planning permission, and if so why;
  • If you do need permission, details of what would be required as part of the application submission, and how to apply, will also be provided;

What happens next?

  • If you need permission, you will need to apply.
  • If you do not need permission, then you can carry on with the works, providing you comply with all other relevant legislation (including, the Building Regulations).

4) Pre-application advice

If you need to apply for planning permission, but wish to seek advice on the acceptability of your proposals, you may seek pre-application advice. This service is intended to provide an indication of whether your proposal is likely to gain planning permission or not, and what you would need to submit with any application that you make.

For small schemes (householder and small scale development), the pre-application process can be done through the exchange of correspondence, although if necessary a meeting can be held, by appointment, at the Council offices.

For larger schemes, meetings may well be necessary and are advisable, and the discussions could include several rounds of discussion depending upon the complexity of proposals.

What do you need to provide?

  • Your contact details, including a telephone number and email address (if you have one);
  • A detailed description of your proposed development;
  • A location plan to scale, with the site clearly marked;
  • Details of the proposed site area;
  • Photographs or drawings of what you propose (with an indication of size/scale);
  • Sketch drawings of floor plans and elevations;
  • Access and parking details;
  • Any other details you feel would help us to provide a comprehensive response;
  • Fee where required (see tables under Section 6).

What service will be provided?

  • We will aim to provide you with a written response within 20 working days for smaller schemes* (less than 10 dwellings or 1000 sq m of new commercial floorspace);
  • We will aim to provide you with a written response within 25 working days for larger schemes* (more than 10 dwellings or 1000 sq m of new commercial floorspace);
  • For larger schemes, at least one meeting with your representatives and relevant consultees will be convened;
  • Consultation with specialist colleagues will be undertaken and they will be included in discussions where appropriate

Pre-application discussions with the Local Authority will not cover advice from the Highway Authority, Local Lead Flood Authority, Environment Agency or Historic England. Separate advice will need to be sought from these organisations as necessary and an additional charge may be required.

  • Consideration of the relevant site planning history;
  • Consideration of the relevant local planning framework designations of the site;
  • Consideration of the context of the site and the relative impacts across the site boundaries;
  • Where a planning obligation is likely to be required, the likely content of such an agreement shall be agreed prior to the submission of an application;
  • Confirmation as to what information would be required to be submitted in support of an application for planning permission will be provided;
  • An informal indication of the likely outcome of your proposed development, with guidance on how it could be improved, where possible.

What happens next?

  • Once a point in the discussions is reached where your proposal is considered likely to be acceptable, you will be invited to submit an application.
  • Where necessary, discussions could continue during the lifetime of a formal application, but generally this can be avoided through engaging in thorough pre-application discussions

5) Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs)

Where you propose a major application and wish to enter into a formal Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), you are advised to write to the planning team (contact details under Section 8) and seek specific advice and guidance. A fee and a timetable will need to be agreed at the first meeting, and the fee received before the Council take the matter further.

For further information on PPAs, see the guidance from the National Planning Practice Guidance

6) Table of fees for planning advice and details of exemptions

PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT ENQUIRIES

Proposed development type

Cost

Householder

£0

Other

£0

PRE-APPLICATION ADVICE

Proposed development type Cost Cost of additional meetings

Householder

£0

£0

Cost of each additional meeting

£0

£0

RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT

No. of dwellings Size of Site (if number of dwellings not known) Cost Cost of additional meetings

1 dwelling

Up to 0.03 ha

£105

£47

2-3 dwellings

0.03 ha - 0.1 ha

£294

£126

4-5 dwellings

0.11 ha – 0.17 ha

£394

£184

6-7 dwellings

0.18 ha – 0.23 ha

£578

£263

8-9 dwellings

0.24 ha – 0.3 ha

£788

£368

10-24 dwellings

0.31 ha – 0.8 ha

£1,050

£578

25-49 dwellings

0.9 ha – 1.6 ha

£1,680

£735

50-74 dwellings

1.7 ha – 2.4 ha

£2,010

£945

75-99 dwellings

2.5 ha – 3.3 ha

£2,730

£1,260

100-149 dwellings

3.4 ha – 5 ha

£3,360

£1,365

150-199 dwellings

5.1 ha – 6.6 ha

£3,675

£1,575

200-299 dwellings

6.7 ha – 10 ha

£4,410

£1,890

300-499 dwellings

11 ha – 16.5 ha

£5,040

£2,100

500+ dwellings

16.6 ha +

£5,460

£2,625

NON-RESIDENTIAL/COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Gross floor area proposed Cost Cost of additional meetings

Up to 75 m²

£0

£0

76 m² - 249 m²

£158

£79

250 m² - 499 m²

£315

£158

500 m² - 999 m²

£683

£341

1,000 m² - 2,499 m²

£1,680

£756

2,500 m² - 4,999 m²

£2,625

£893

2,500 m² - 9,999 m²

£3,570

£1,155

10,000 m² +

£5,040

£1,575

OTHERS

Proposed development type Cost Cost of additional meetings

Advertisements

£79

£26

Change of Use

£158

£79

Telecommunications

£236

£121

Glasshouses/Poly-Tunnels

£84

£21

Others**

£79

£26

** Includes other development proposals such as variation or removal of conditions;

car parks; and, certificates of lawfulness.

Historic Environment and Tree related enquiries

Proposed development type Cost Cost of additional meetings

Separate Listed Building and Conservation Area Advice (Up to 3 separate matters)

£63

£26

Cost of each additional matter to be considered

£16

 

The separate matters must be agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority prior to any payment being made.

Proposed development type Cost Cost of additional meetings

Separate Tree Related Enquires* -

Number of trees not exceeding 10

£63

£26

Number of trees over 10 but not exceeding 30

£126

£26

The Local Planning Authority will only provide advice in respect of trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or trees within a Conservation Area.

All of the above fees include VAT, at 20%.

The initial costs noted in the tables above include up to three meetings. The additional charge for meetings would apply after these first meetings have occurred.

Exemptions

Advice sought in the following categories will not incur a fee where ordinarily payable

  • Where the enquiry is made by a local authority;
  • Where the enquiry is made by a Parish Council;
  • Where the enquiry is made by a Housing Association (HA) or Registered Provider (RP);
  • Where the development is for the direct benefit of a disabled person (and as such there would be no fee incurred to make the planning application);
  • Advice on how to submit an application or a fee enquiry;
  • Planning discussions in relation to ongoing enforcement investigations.

Reduced charges

A 50% reduction in charges will apply in respect of tree related enquires only for OAPs and those on benefits (evidence will be required).

7) 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

8) Contact details

To seek further assistance or submit an enquiry, please use any of the following contact details:

Telephone the Worcestershire Hub on 01562 732928 or email the Development Management section at: dev.management@wyreforestdc.gov.uk

Write to: Development Management Section, Wyre Forest District Council, Economic Prosperity and Place Directorate, Wyre Forest House, Finepoint Way, Kidderminster. DY11 7WF

9) General information

  • No advice will be provided, or your request considered, without receipt of the relevant fee, where applicable.
  • Meetings are not a compulsory element of the planning advice process. Therefore, it is asked that where a meeting is not necessary, one is not requested, in order that resources can be made available to as many people as possible to deal with a higher volume of enquiries.
  • There will be a presumption for meetings to take place at the Council offices unless justification or necessity requires a site meeting.
  • The attendance of consultees at discussions cannot be guaranteed, however wherever possible and necessary, invitations will be issued.
  • Where a meeting is held, a period for a written response will be agreed at the meeting. Wherever possible, the first meeting will be held within the response times noted above.
  • All advice is provided without prejudice to the outcome of any future planning application, or change to the statutory or policy planning framework. However, where changes are perceived to be imminent, we will attempt to advise accordingly.
  • Where significant new information comes to light during the course of a planning application that was not considered at pre-application stage, the case officer will alert the applicant to this and seek additional information if appropriate.
  • Development carried out on site without the benefit of planning permission (where it is required) is at risk of enforcement action and applicants and their representatives should be fully aware of this and mindful of it when considering their position and future options.
  • Only under very exceptional circumstances will a refund or part refund be provided.
  • Free and independent professional advice on the planning process, and assistance with planning matters, may be available to you, depending on your circumstances. For further information, contact the local branch of Planning Aid through planningaid.rtpi.org.uk

PLEASE NOTE

Any advice given by Council officers for pre-application enquiries does not indicate any formal decision by the Council as Local Planning Authority. Any views or opinions are given without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application.

The final decision on any application that you may then make can only be taken after the Council has consulted local people, statutory consultees and any other interested parties. The final decision on any application will then be made by the Council’s Planning Committee or by the Director of Economic Prosperity and Place under delegated powers in accordance with Wyre Forest District Council’s approved Scheme of Delegation, and will be based on all of the information available at that time.

You should therefore be aware that officers cannot guarantee the final formal decision that will be made on your application(s).

Any pre-application advice that has been provided will be carefully considered in reaching a decision or recommendation on an application, subject to the proviso that circumstances and information may change or come to light that could alter that position.

It should be noted that the weight given to pre-application advice may decline over time, subject to changing material circumstances.

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