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Pre-application advice

Due to high caseloads and staff shortages, there is currently a backlog of applications in the Planning teams. The Pre-Application Service has therefore been temporarily suspended and we ask for your patience during this period.

Pre-Application requests submitted before close of business on Wednesday 21 April 2022 will still be processed but may take longer than advertised. Your case officer will be able to advise you of expected timescales to complete your pre-application request.

The national planning portal contains useful guides, information and an interactive house to assist you in the majority of planning related queries. In addition, there are a number of Planning Consultants in the local area who are able to provide you with advice along with pre-application support.

Before seeking pre-application advice, you should check to see if you need planning permission for your proposed development. The formal pre-application advice service can provide site specific advice on proposals that require planning permission.

If planning permission is required for your proposed development, our pre-application advice service will give you a steer on whether you are likely to be successful with your planning application before it is submitted.

If we believe your application is unlikely to be successful, we can offer advice on how issues with the application can be overcome. This can save you time and money by enabling potential issues to be identified and resolved before the application is submitted.

Disclaimer

Pre-application advice cannot guarantee that a planning application will be approved, as the planning officer will not be able to consider any comments or responses that may be made once an application has been submitted. We will give you the best advice possible based on the information provided and our advice should assist in ensuring that all the necessary information is provided with a subsequent planning application.

We accept no legal liability in contract or in tort for the accuracy and/or quality of the advice given.

Confidentiality

While the pre-application enquiry is being considered, all details will be kept confidential from the general public and Town/Parish Councils (unless authorised by you or where we are required to release details by law).

However, if a planning application is submitted in respect of a scheme related to the pre-application enquiry, then details of the pre-application will no longer be confidential. This is because the information contained in that pre-application enquiry becomes public as part of the public consultation process when determining the planning application.

Ward Councillors will receive notification of your pre-application enquiry and be able to participate in the process. If the Ward Councillor is also a member of the Planning Committee they will be subject to certain rules guiding their involvement in pre-application enquiries. This is to make sure that they are not prevented from being able to vote on any subsequent formal application at Planning Committee.

Early discussions with planning officers will provide you with the opportunity to create projects in the right form that will be attractive to the community. They can identify the key planning issues, avoid abortive work and costs and speed up the application process.

Pre-application advice should lead to a reduction in the number of planning applications that are submitted without all required documents. It should also lead to a reduction in the number of planning applications that are refused or withdrawn because the development is unacceptable and needs significant amendments. These are major factors that often result in significant delays.

If comprehensive pre-application discussions have taken place it should also avoid the need for minor revisions to a scheme following the submission of a formal application.

Pre-application advice will allow heads of terms for planning obligations (section 106) to be identified at an early stage, including an early commitment to drafting the legal agreement in parallel to the application.

You can apply for pre-application advice by submitting a pre-application enquiry form and accompanying documentation via email or post (in hard copy format) using the contact details in the table below.

AreaContact details
Daventry[email protected] 
Development Control,
West Northamptonshire Council,
Lodge Road,
Daventry, NN11 4FP
Northampton[email protected]
Development Management,
West Northamptonshire Council,
The Guildhall,
St Giles' Square,
Northampton NN1 1DE
South Northamptonshire[email protected]
Development Management,
West Northamptonshire Council,
The Forum,
Moat Lane,
Towcester, NN12 6AD

The fee payable for pre-application advice is based largely on the size and complexity of the development proposal received (see the pre-application fee schedule). Mixed use developments involving more than 1 of the categories in the fee category shall be charged on the basis of the category that attracts the highest fee. Please note: The fast-track service is currently unavailable.

Details of how to make payment are provided in the table below (pre-application enquiries will not be validated until payment has been made).

AreaPayment method(s)
DaventryDebit/credit card via phone: 0300 126 7000
NorthamptonA member of the team will contact you within 10 working days of receiving your application, advising you of the fee and how to make payment.
South NorthamptonshireDebit/credit card online (preferred): Pay pre-application advice fee
Debit/credit card via phone: 01327 322237

The minimum level of information that needs to be provided is the pre-application enquiry form, a location plan and the appropriate fee (see fees above).

In the event that the information submitted is insufficient or not detailed enough, the subsequent advice will be less reliable when it comes to submitting a formal application. A list of essential and desirable information that should be submitted when seeking pre-application advice is set out on the pre-application enquiry form.

Advice can be provided in one of the following ways (with the fee level set accordingly).

OptionType of adviceNature of adviceTimeframe for a response
1Advice in PrincipleThe fastest pre-application enquiry available based on the principle of the development only - Comprises a desktop study only, with no visit to the site, no consultations with any internal or external consultees and no meeting. A response is provided purely on the principle of the development, based on the policies in the development plan. The response will not cover matters of detail or design2 weeks
2Detailed Written Advice OnlyThe same as option 1, but consultations undertaken with internal consultees and responding on all issues arising from the proposal, including detailed design3 weeks
3Detailed Written Advice and meetingSame as option 2 but includes a meeting with a planning officer to discuss the proposed development4 weeks
4Detailed Written advice and meeting and Site VisitSame as option 3, but includes the case officer carrying out a visit to the site (or Timeframe to be agreed on submission for complex Major Development)5 weeks
5Fast TrackA faster service than the above timescales can be sought (on any of the available options) by paying an additional fee, the faster timescale will be agreed upon request and is subject to availability. We reserve the right to right to refuse requests subject to resources and availabilityTo be agreed upon request

Please note: The timeframes quoted start from the day a valid pre-application enquiry is received.

On Option 1 (Advice in Principle) we will give you a simple answer whether the principle of development is likely to be acceptable.

On Options 2-5 (Detailed Advice) we aim to give you clear, constructive advice on all matters of the proposed development and how to resolve problems where they arise. However, this is not be possible in all cases, either because the whole proposal is unacceptable, or the case officer is not aware of any solutions.

When responding to pre-application enquiries for Option 2- 5, we will provide:

  • a pre-submission validation checklist of documents/information required and likely consultations to be undertaken
  • full contact details of all relevant external consultees
  • advice as to whether any further meetings and/or written advice is necessary. In the event that you choose to accept this advice and submit a further pre-application enquiry, a further charge will apply (see pre-application fee schedule)
  • advice on whether a section 106 agreement will be required
  • advice on what the general heads of terms could be, having regard to the relevant planning policies and other material planning considerations

We can provide advice on the following issues where relevant:

  • land use policies (local, strategic and national)
  • design and sustainability
  • residential quality (density, size of units, mix, tenure, amenity space)
  • impact on neighbouring amenity (day/sunlight, privacy, noise)
  • historical impact (listed buildings, conservation areas, archaeology)
  • trees and hedgerows
  • building regulations
  • contaminated land
  • odour, smells, dust, fumes (fume extraction systems)
  • leisure issues
  • planning obligations
  • flood risk from rivers (to include the Environment Agency’s standing advice where applicable) or surface water
  • drainage capacity issues (land and sewers)
  • highways (servicing, access, parking)
  • natural environment (open space, ecological diversity)
  • any other issues identified as relevant, including whether your application is likely to be delegated to officers or determined by Committee

Where possible the case officer who dealt with your pre-application enquiry will also deal with the subsequent planning application.

In our pre-application response to you, we may also refer to the following documents or advice from Natural England if relevant to your proposal.

In the event that the case officer recommendation for a formal application does not follow the advice given at pre-application stage and there has been no change in circumstances (for example, a change in planning policy or the views of an external consultee being received which necessitate a different recommendation) in the interim period or the pre-application advice is not more than 2 years old, all or part of the pre-application fee will be refunded.

The level/proportion of refund given will depend on the circumstances of each case and be at the discretion of the Assistant Director of Planning and Economy (or in their absence, the Senior Manager).

In the event that the case officer recommendation for a formal application follows the advice given at pre-application stage, but Planning Committee overturns it, no refunds shall be given.

Last updated 06 May 2022