Pre-application advice and planning performance agreements during the COVID-19 pandemic

During 2021, we have received a record number of householder and minor planning applications. Because of this and staff sickness, we’re not providing pre-application advice for the type of projects listed below at the moment, although advice on major applications will continue to be available.

What we are not giving pre-application advice for

Medium scale developments

This includes:

  • residential developments up to and including 9 dwellings
  • commercial developments less than 1,000 square metres floor space
  • changes of use, including HMOs
  • prior approval changes of use
  • telecommunications equipment

Householder developments

All householder developments including:

  • extensions and conversions
  • lofts
  • windows
  • porches
  • garages and outbuildings
  • swimming pools
  • walls and fences
  • hardstanding and access for vehicles
  • satellite dishes and solar panels

Small scale developments

This includes:

  • shopfronts
  • advertisements
  • air conditioning units

Listed buildings and heritage advice

All internal and some external Listed Building alterations that fall in the small scale category, including boundary walls.

This will enable case officers and our support staff to focus on maintaining delivery of timely decisions on planning applications. We have recently reviewed the position, and we will not be able to reinstate the pre-application advice services for the development categories outlined above until early January 2022.

There is lots of online advice for householder and small scale developments on the council’s planning webpages and the Planning Portal, including:

What we are giving pre-application advice for 

We will still provide pre-application advice for:

Large scale development (major) proposals 

Residential including:

  • 10 or more units/dwellings of residential accommodation
  • site area exceeding 0.5 hectares where it is not known how many units are being created

Non-residential including development:

  • of 1,000 square metres or more
  • site areas of one hectare or more

We will continue to provide these services using online conferencing and email. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we're minimising site visits where possible. The case officer can discuss suitable alternatives, including photographs and other technological solutions.

We have had a high number of requests for advice on major developments during the summer. As a result, we cannot currently accept commissions where a client needs a completed response in less than six weeks after we get a completed application form.

We encourage applicants to apply early and give us as much time as possible to give advice.

If you want this service, please send an email to with:

  • your contact details
  • the location of the project and whether it is a major development or listed building
  • an outline of the scope of the proposed project
  • the timescale within which you require the advice
  • when you envisage having all of the supporting information that you want comments on available for a case officer to review

We will then review to make sure we can:

  • meet your response requirements
  • confirm the fee
  • send the application form for you to fill in

You need to submit this with the appropriate fee paid before we can provide the service.

Pre-application advice

We offer pre-application advice to improve the quality of planning applications and to provide you with information about any likely issues with your planning application.

Early advice gives your application the best chance of success.

Discuss potential changes without pressure from the application deadline.

How our pre-application advice service works

You can choose between:

  • written ‘in principle' advice
  • written 'in principle' advice and a meeting

You can also choose to have specialist officers to input into our advice and/or a site visit. We will also contact you if we feel specialist officers' advice is needed.

After you submit your request we will check to make sure that we’ve received the correct fee.

We'll check to make sure that sufficient information has been submitted. Once this is done your request is complete.

Large scale and listed building developments

We will provide our written comments within 4 weeks (or other agreed timescale) of receiving a complete request or within 4 weeks (or other agreed timescale) of the date of our meeting.

How our planning officers can help 

They provide:

  • local knowledge and information on the relevant national and local planning policies and guidance
  • relevant planning history
  • advice on the procedure, consultation and estimated timescale of your application once submitted
  • informal and without prejudice officer comments on the scheme

Larger proposals and planning performance agreements

We may need to hold further meetings before a formal application is submitted if your proposed development has:

  • complex issues
  • needs significant alterations to the scheme

Additional meetings will be subject to a further charge.

We may work with you to put a planning performance agreement in place. This sets out an agreed framework for taking your proposal forward.

We offer the DesignPLACE Review (Design Panel) service to all pre-application submissions for major schemes in the city.

Further information 

Please ensure that you are familiar with relevant planning policies, guidance and planning history when you prepare your proposals.


Local plan policies and guidance 

Please be familiar with the policies in the emerging City Plan.

The following additional guidance is available: