Pre application advice

General

The following explains the arrangements for providing more detailed advice, including those cases where we make a charge.  Early advice can help identify:

  • whether in principle a proposal is likely to be acceptable
  • the key planning issues and policies that need to be considered
  • where the applicant may need further specialist advice to help prepare the application
  • what changes may be needed to any draft proposals

Such advice can save an applicant time in preparing the application and also the time taken by the Council to make a decision on it.  In the case of proposals with little prospect of approval early advice can avoid further abortive work. It can also quickly identify solutions to problems and therefore save costs.

Pre-Application Planning Advice and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004

Disclosing information on pre-application discussions

Although the Council does not automatically publicise the details of pre-application discussions with potential developers, under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 we may receive from time to time a request from a member of the public 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 contact details are protected under the Data Protection Act.

The exemptions relate to commercially sensitive and confidential information. It is therefore important that you bring to the Council's attention at the outset in writing 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 into these categories. It is then for the Council to decide whether it believes the information falls into these exempt categories, if a Freedom of Information request or Environmental information is subsequently received.

We may also treat as exempt from disclosure information which, if disclosed, may prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. This can be particularly relevant at the outset of major applications where a lot of exploratory discussion takes place. If the disclosure of this exploratory information was likely to prejudice the process of leading to a proper determination of the subsequent planning application, then it may not be disclosable.

Apart from these exemptions any other recorded information resulting from these pre-application discussions is very likely to be disclosable.

Pre Application Advice from the Environment Agency

The Environment Agency charge for giving detailed pre-application advice.  They do, however, provide a free service to developers and their consultants in the form of a Preliminary Opinion.  The details of their charges is set out in their notification letter.

What advice is free?

The sort of advice we will provide at no charge:

  • whether there are preserved trees on a site or if trees are protected by being in a Conservation Area;
  • whether a building is statutorily 'Listed' or on the Council's 'Local List';
  • how to make a planning application, applications for work to preserved trees, or applications for Listed Building and other consents;
  • how to object to a planning application;
  • details about processes and timescales in making planning decisions;
  • planning policies and documents that may be relevant to particular types of proposal;
  • other general factual queries;
  • verbal advice on planning policies and supplementary planning guidance for householder proposals (this will not include any background research);
  • general advice on permitted development allowances for householders (this is an informal officer opinion only which is subject to other restrictions, including conditions and permitted development rights which will not be checked by the duty officer);

We can provide advice on the above matters when we operate our 'duty officer' system.

The planning department can only confirm in writing if your proposed development does not need planning permission and is permitted by issuing a Lawful Development Certificate.

We can provide advice on the above matters either by telephone on 01784 451499, letter, email or face-to-face at the Council Offices when we operate our 'duty officer' system.  We nevertheless encourage the use of email.

What advice we make a charge for:

We charge for more detailed advice which takes up more of our officer's time.  However, we may decline to provide further advice where we have already indicated that in principle a proposal has no chance of approval.  In all cases a written response will be provided.

  • Householder Proposals:  This covers advice on all extensions to residential property and ancillary structures such as walls and fences.  Any request for written confirmation as to whether planning permission is required for building work or a change of use should be submitted as an application for a Lawful Development Certificate rather than a planning enquiry
  • Trees included in a Tree Preservation Order:  We are able to offer a service to advise on surgery or felling for a particular tree(s) and this will include a site visit.  This will include a ground level visual inspection only.  This will give you impartial technical advice to help you apply for any work that may be needed and assist you in specifying exactly what your tree surgeon needs to do to a tree
  • Listed Buildings and Buildings in Conservation Areas:  We are able to give specialist advice on proposed alterations and appropriate repairs
  • Dropped Kerbs:  Confirmation on whether there is a planning condition on your property requiring you to apply for planning permission before proceeding and if there are other reasons why planning permission would be required
  • All other proposals, including all other residential and non-residential development:  Requests for detailed information and responses to draft proposals should be put in writing/email

We will endeavour to deal with written requests within 10 working days (where all the information has been provided) and meetings will be arranged to take place within 15 days.  Meeting times will only be agreed after we have received the plans and documents outlining the nature of what is to be discussed and the fee for the meeting has been paid.  Where meetings are cancelled only 50 per cent of the fee will be refunded.

Information you will need to provide:

When we make a charge for giving advice on specific proposals we will, as appropriate, expect you to provide:

  • a completed Planning enquiry form;
  • a clear description of the proposal;
  • a site location plan with all site boundaries, neighbouring properties and adjacent roads shown;
  • scaled drawings of both existing and proposed floor plans and elevations (where relevant);
  • supporting photographs of the site would also be helpful

The advice we will give:

In the case of trees the Council's Tree Officer will carry out a visual inspection of the tree(s) and will provide a short report to include a brief description of the tree, its general condition and a recommendation for works which would be acceptable to the Council.  

For all other proposals, we will ensure our comments provide, as appropriate:

  • a critical analysis of the draft proposal
  • relevant planning history of the site including checks on whether permitted development rights have been previously removed or limited
  • policies that apply to the site - both local and national
  • any other constraints on the site
  • information that may be needed to support a planning application
  • any infrastructure requirements (this will not apply to residential extensions)
  • details of any contacts you may need eg Surrey County Council Highways or Environment Agency

Planning enquiry on use of property/site

If you wish to obtain the planning history of a site, you may do so by accessing the Council's planning records via Planning Applications Online.

If you require us to do this on your behalf, you should complete the pdf icon Planning Enquiry form [78kb].  The charge per request is £180 per hour or part hour.  Payment for the first hour will need to be made at the time of the request.  If an additional fee is required for extra work, you will be contacted by the planning officer.  Cheques should be made payable to 'Spelthorne Borough Council' and sent to the Planning Department, Spelthorne Council, Knowle Green, Staines-upon-Thames TW18 1XB.  Payment can also be made by Credit Card by either contacting Customer Services on 01784 451499 or online.

If you know what the lawful use of your property/site is, then you may view the Use Classes Order to establish whether you require planning permission for alternative proposals.  Please note that some sites may be subject to a condition which restricts the use.

Having studied the Use Classes Order, if you are of the opinion that planning permission is not required, you should submit a Certificate of Lawfulness application for a proposed development via the Planning Portal.  There are areas of judgement within the Use Classes Order and you are strongly advised to submit an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness so that your proposal can be considered formally and a legal determination given.

The planning department can only confirm in writing if your proposed development does not need planning permission and is permitted by issuing a Lawful Development Certificate.  Please note that proceeding with work without confirming that the works are permitted development via a Certificate of Lawfulness is entirely at your own risk.

If you come to the view that planning permission is required, you can submit a planning application via the planning portal.

Your proposed development will need to comply with a range of planning policies and documents.  The policies that you will need to apply will differ depending on the location and type of your development.  Guidance on the Council's planning policies can be viewed on the Planning Policy.

Scale of Charges

Meetings      
Strategic proposals (50+ dwellings or 2,000+ sqm commercial) where Head of Service attends£3,250
Strategic proposals (50+ dwellings or 2,000+ sqm commercial)£3,000
Major proposal (10-49 dwellings or 1,000-2,000 sqm commercial) where Head of Service attends£2,050
Major proposal (10-49 dwellings or 1,000-2,000 sqm commercial)£1,800
Minor proposals (2-9 dwellings or up to 1,000 sqm commercial)£1,000
Single new dwelling/replacement dwelling£350
Advertisements£350
Planning Performance Agreements for major/complex proposals (terms to be agreed) 

Written Advice

 
Householder advice on acceptability of a proposal£70
Confirmation on whether a dropped kerb requires planning permission£55
Planning enquiry on existing use of property/site£180 per hour or part hour
Strategic proposals (50+ dwellings or 2,000+ sqm commercial)£2,200
Major proposals (10+ dwellings or 1,000-2,000 sqm commercial)£1,200
Minor proposals (2-9 dwellings or up to 1,000 sqm commercial)£600
Single new dwelling/replacement dwelling£275
Advertisements - per advertisement£110
Other miscellaneous developments (as agreed by the Planning Development Manager)£110

Other

 
Site visit and advice on trees£65
Site visit and advice on historic buildings£110

Payment

Payment will need to be made in advance of any meeting or with any written request.  Cheques should be made payable to 'Spelthorne Borough Council' and sent to the Planning Department, Spelthorne Council, Knowle Green, Staines-upon-Thames TW18 1XB.  Payment can also be made by Credit Card by either contacting Customer Services on 01784 451499 or you can pay online.