Pre-Application Advice

Planning pre-application advice service

The Planning Service is currently under-going a major review relating to the way it delivers its services.  As a consequence of this, resources are being focused on specific areas of the service in the short term meaning that we can currently only provide a pre-application service for major planning applications. However, we hope to be able to offer pre-application service for all applications soon and will advise our customers when we are able to do so.  We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Urban Design Advice from Essex County Council

On all Major and Strategic pre – application submissions and on certain other submissions as considered necessary (as agreed with the planning officer) advice will be required from Urban Design at Essex County Council at the additional fee rate set out herein.

Advice for householders

Advice will be available to householders who want to extends their home or make other alterations on submission of a pre- application submission, however, fees will be charged as set out in the table for either written advice or a meeting to discuss your pre application.

Permitted Development Enquiries

If you want written confirmation of whether an application is required you should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. Details can be found below.

What you should provide with your submission

You will need to provide the following information as a minimum:

  • Completed pre-application advice request application form
  • Correct fee (see charging schedule)
  • Full site address and location plan (1:1250 scale) with the site outlined in red
  • Draft of Design and Access Statement (as applicable and not for householder development)
  • Sketch drawings providing details of the proposal. Floor plans for each floor of the proposed building together with at least sketch elevations that are sufficient to indicate the initial architectural approach and palette of materials. Drawings should also show any adjacent buildings and boundaries to identify the context of the scheme
  • Photographs of the site and adjoining properties affected by the development
  • Proposed developments involving 100 dwellings or more or 10,000 sq.m. floor space or more, should be accompanied by an initial outline for the proposal for the site
  • Site history i.e. occupancy of the site where the proposal relates to a change of use

What can you expect?

  • Acknowledgement of receipt of submission including reference number and case office
  • The case officer may need to make contact to arrange a meeting time, date and venue, request additional information and/or advise how long it will take to respond to your enquiry
  • An agreed maximum time for each meeting – see the table below.
  • We aim to provide a formal response within 20 working days for written requests and 10 working days following a meeting, unless an alternative timescale has been agreed between the parties, for example, to allow consultation with other organisations or individuals.

How will the advice be structured?

The matters, which could be subject to pre-application discussions, include:

  • Whether the proposed type of development is acceptable in principle
  • Relevant planning history of the site
  • The surrounding context of the site
  • Relevant policies and constraints
  • Recommended consultations before the application is submitted
  • Issues relevant to the type and scale of proposed development, such as: urban design, amenity, transport and environmental issues including noise, contamination, flooding, drainage and biodiversity
  • Likely developer contributions
  • Case Officer conclusions

General Advice

There are some general points, which you should take into account before you contact us:

  • Try to contact us at the earliest reasonable opportunity in your project
  • Undertake some initial research yourself – our website may help
  • Sound out the views of those that may be affected by your proposals
  • The more information you can give us, the more helpful and accurate our response can be
  • On complex issues be prepared to seek private professional advice.

Meetings with Members

In accordance with the Council’s protocol, pre-application meetings on schemes falling within the minor, major or strategic categories can involve Council Members. The charges for meetings that also involve Members will be as per the charging schedule. Feedback from such meetings will be in the form of a written note of the meeting plus together with any additional information requests agreed at the meeting.


You should be aware that any advice given by the Council in relation to pre-application enquiries will be based on the case officer's professional judgement and will not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council with regard to any future planning applications. Any views or opinions expressed, are given without prejudice to the consideration by the Council of any formal planning application, which will be subject to wider consultation and publicity. Although the case officer may indicate the likely outcome of a formal planning application, no guarantees can or will be given about the decision that will be made on any such application.

Other issues to consider

  • Planning permission does not over-ride the need to obtain any necessary approvals under the Building Regulations, Party Wall Act or any other relevant legislation.
  • Separate approval may also be required in other areas, for example, restrictive covenants, shared agreements, easements, rights of way etc.
  • It should be noted that policies, constraints etc. change from time to time and may affect the advice given. The weight that can be given to pre-application advice will therefore decline over time
  • The Council positively encourages applicants to enter into pre-application discussions but if a major or minor application is submitted without such discussions, the Council may determine the application as submitted without post submission discussions.
  •  Any advice given in relation to the planning history of the site, planning constraints or statutory designations does not constitute a formal response under the provisions of the Local Land Charges Act 1975.
  • The provisions of The Freedom of Information Act bind the Council, as a public authority, and therefore it should be presumed that information supplied to the Council is likely to be disclosable under the above Act. If you want information to remain confidential, you should state clearly why. Information sent to the Council "in confidence" may still be disclosable under the above Act. Before sending such information you are advised to take legal advice if there are fears that disclosure would prejudice you in some commercial way
  • The written advice will depend upon the information presented (please see 'what you should provide'). Advice will usually be in the form of a written report considering the areas identified above.

Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires us to make all documents available to members of the public, if requested. Pre-application advice can only be treated as confidential if there are clearly demonstrable issues of commercial sensitivity or other significant reasons why this information may not be made public. (Any enquiry in this category should be clearly marked as confidential). If a planning application is made as a result of pre-application advice, all documentation may be publicly available, as they will form background papers to the application.

For further information…

Once you have completed your application form and attached the relevant information please send your enquiry to the following postal address: Planning, Rochford District Council, Council Offices, South Street, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1BW

Or using this form

  Written generic only without officer viewing the site Meeting with written advice Follow-up
    Urban Design advice   Urban Design advice   Urban Design advice
Householder £55 N/A £120A £60 £120 £60
Small £250 £120 £300A £150 £180 £90
Minor £250 £140 £420 A £220 £240 £110
Major £770 £450 £1000 B £600 £700 £400
Strategic N/A N/A £1500 C £850 £1100 £650
Listed building  £200 N/A £395A N/A £260 N/A

All prices include VAT

Retrospective Development: Fees for advice where development is already undertaken prior to pre-application submissions is at a rate of 120% of the above fees

Note A – 1 meeting of up to 2 hours

Note B – 1 meetings of up to 3 hours

Note C – 1 meetings of up to 3 hours or alternatively £2250 (plus £1275 Urban Design fee) total £3525 for 2 meetings or £7900 (plus £4440 Urban Design fee) Total £12340 for a package of up to 6 meetings

Small – 1 dwelling or up to 999 square metres commercial floor area, including small changes to plant or other alterations to commercial premises

Minor – 2-9 dwellings or 1000-1,999 square metres

Major – 10-99 dwellings or 2,000-4,999 square metres

Strategic - +100 dwellings or + 5,000 square metres

Householder – extensions, alterations, outbuildings, etc.

Where a proposal does not fall into one of the published categories, the charge for pre-application advice will be agreed by negotiation.