Pre-application advice

We encourage agents, developers and householders to discuss their planning proposals with us before applying formally.

Charges for our pre-application advice service

Like most other councils, we charge for providing pre-application advice to developers and householders. We introduced these charges on 1 February 2017 so that we can recover the cost of providing the service and to reflect the officer time in responding.

Our planning officers continue to be available to discuss development proposals informally and to provide initial advice over the telephone.

However, if you want us to provide a written response, review submitted draft schemes or meet to discuss proposals, you will need to pay a charge in advance.

Any advice we give before, or while we are considering an application, will be without prejudice to the outcome of any subsequent planning application.

Confidentiality and Freedom of Information

We carry out pre-application discussion with potential applicants on a 'without prejudice' basis and we understand that the expectation of those seeking it is that the advice we provide is in confidence and outside the formal planning process.

However, pre-application discussion does not fall within any 'absolute' exemption under FOI legislation. It is considered to be a 'qualified' exemption, which means that any request to provide such information must be subject to a test of consideration, where the public interest in transparency must be balanced against the public interest in it remaining confidential. This is in line with the provisions of Section Two of the Freedom of Information Act and the advice of the Information Commissioner's Office.

In our view, we are serving the 'public good' by providing pre-application advice to potential developers, which can help them to refine or develop a satisfactory development scheme before deciding whether to, and/or how, to submit a formal application. If such discussions do result in an application, the details of it would be in the public domain and the application would be the subject of statutory notification through which interested parties could obtain full details and have their views considered.

Our view is that, on balance, the public good of providing confidential and 'without prejudice' pre-application discussions outweighs that of transparency about the privacy or commercial confidentiality of enquirers, particularly as any consideration of a resulting planning application will take place in the public domain.

We will be obliged to apply this test on a case-by-case basis when considering any Freedom of Information request about pre-application discussion of a particular site. It would, therefore, help us if, when submitting a pre-application request, you indicate that you want the discussions to remain confidential and give reasons why you feel this should be the case. If we conclude that the discussion should remain confidential, we would neither confirm nor deny if any pre-application discussions had taken place. 

Householders - domestic extensions and minor developments

We will continue to be available to speak to you by telephone and give informal advice on your project.

If you reach the stage where you'd like us to assess and give an opinion on a draft proposal, there will be a standard charge of £40 (inc VAT) to deal with your enquiry.

You will need to provide sketch proposals. When we have received these and your fee, we will begin to assess you pre-application submission.

We will provide you with a response within four weeks of receiving the proposals and fee. 

Smaller to medium-sized developments

If your proposal involves a change of use, creation of between one and ten new homes, or up to 1,000sqm of commercial floorspace, we charge £240 (inc VAT) for pre-application advice.

Our ability to provide detailed and valuable advice will depend on what you submit to us.

Before seeking pre-application advice

You should make sure you are aware of the policies and standards that apply, particularly those that relate to our Special Protection Area (SPA) avoidance and mitigation strategy.

You should also make sure you are aware of pdf icon Hampshire County Council's advice, as the local highway authority, on consultation [174kb]. This advice also includes its standing advice on the approach to highway design for small-scale applications.

You can find details of other relevant planning policies and standards on our planning policies pages.

You should also prepare a sketch proposal, which aims to comply with these policies and standards.

Once we've received your initial proposal and fee

Once we have received your initial proposal and the fee, we will begin to assess your submission.

A planning officer will visit the site and, within four weeks of registration, supply a written assessment of the draft proposal. This will be in a standard format and will give an opinion of whether we would recommend the granting of planning permission.

The case officer will decide if there needs to be a meeting or to involve other specialist officers.

The advice will also include suggested measures which might make an unacceptable proposal satisfactory. Where applicable, and where it is available, residential proposals would receive an allocation of special protection area (SPA) mitigation in accordance with our avoidance mitigation strategy, as part of the response.

Major developments

If your proposal is for a major development, we charge a fee of £720 (inc VAT).

We consider a major development to be: 

  • More than ten homes
  • A residential site of of 0.5 hectares and above
  • 1,000sqm of commercial floorspace
  • Other sites of one hectare or more

You should make sure you are aware of background information on our planning policies and standards and, for residential development proposals, the requirements of our Special Protection Area (SPA) avoidance and mitigation strategy.

You should then contact us and we will invite you to submit sketch proposals, together with the fee.

Local charities

We will only charge local charity groups the minimum £40 fee for pre-application enquiries, regardless of the proposal under discussion, providing they meet the following criteria:

  • A registered charity
  • With headquarters in the borough of Rushmoor
  • Involved in an activity which serves the people of Rushmoor
  • Not part of a national charity with multiple UK or international offices

Once we've received your sketch proposals and fee

An officer will visit the site and we will invite you to a meeting with either the Head of Planning or the Development Manager, together with a case officer and policy officers, where appropriate. 

You can get pre-application advice on transportation and highways issues, which fall outside the scope of standing advice, from Hampshire County Council, the highway authority for this area. You can find details about this on the county council's Highways development planning web page.

Within four weeks of the meeting, we will provide you with a written assessment of the draft proposal. This will be in a standard format containing an opinion on whether we would recommend planning permission.

We will also provide an explanation of measures we consider necessary to make an unacceptable proposal satisfactory. Where applicable (and available), residential proposals would receive an allocation of special protection area (SPA) mitigation in accordance with our avoidance and mitigation strategy.

What advice we can give you

We will give you accurate and objective advice in good faith to try to make sure your application is complete when we receive it, and your proposal is good development with the best chance of a successful outcome.

More advice on preparing for our discussions

You will need to do some preparatory work before seeking pre-application advice. This will help you and us, as the quality and value of advice we are able to provide will depend to an extent on the background information you put before us.

Before seeking pre-application advice, we would ask you to:

  • Investigate the planning history of the site
  • Check the Local Plan for the site and any policies relevant to your proposals
  • Familiarise yourself with our Car and Cycle Parking Standards and Transport Contributions supplementary planning documents, and consider issues such as good design and access for people with disabilities
  • Visit the site and assess its characteristics, surroundings and any constraints. In some circumstances, we may need accurate site survey plans and tree condition surveys
  • Prepare a draft scheme showing what you would like to do
  • When you have completed the background preparation work and produced a sketch of the scheme, please phone using the contact details on this page
  • Once you have spoken with a case officer, he or she will ask you for plans and details of your draft proposal
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