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Pre-application Planning Advice

21 March 2019

The information on this page relates to County Planning pre-application planning advice only.
If your query relates to Highways / transport please see the pre-application information here.
Essex County Council is now charging for pre-application planning advice. The following Request for Planning Advice form should be completed and submitted to us as detailed within the document:
The relevant guidance to requesting pre-application planning advice and costs can be found in the following document:
The preferred method of payment is via an online payment or sending a cheque payable to Essex County Council to the County Planning Team.
Please note with effect from 1 October 2017 Essex County Council has raised pre-application planning advice fees by 10% to take into account inflation rises over the last 3 years and increased costs.
Essex County Council (ECC) is the Minerals and Waste Planning Authority and has responsibility for determining planning applications relating to minerals and waste development and applications for development being carried out by or on behalf of ECC and / or for development on land which ECC owns or has a significant interest in (Regulation 3 applications).
ECC is therefore able to provide advice as to whether planning permission is required for such development, what the relevant considerations are likely to be, and the information that should accompany a planning application to ensure that it is valid.  Pre-application discussions play an important role in ensuring that development in Essex better reflects community aspirations, County Council priorities and national and local planning objectives.
ECC is committed to engaging in pre-application discussions in accordance with the ‘Ten commitments for effective pre-application engagement’ (January 2014), which has been endorsed by the Local Government Association and the British Property Federation.
A successful approach to managing pre-application discussions can:
·         Improve the quality of applications / proposals
·         Achieve better design outcomes
·         Avoid delays in the system
·         Result in a higher proportion of applications being valid on receipt
·         Potentially reduce the costs of the planning process and the risk of refusals and appeals
Early discussions can establish the relevant planning policies to be taken into account and clarify the format, type and level of detail required by ECC to determine an application. 
ECC’s Validation Checklist gives an overview of all potential supporting documents, statements, assessments and plans that could be required to be submitted when the application is made.  The validation requirements refer solely to the information required in order to validate an application.  This list is not exhaustive and there may be issues that are material in the determination of the application due to the nature of the site and / or proposal. 
Although potential applicants are not obliged to seek pre-application advice, it is highly recommended that proposals are discussed with ECC at the pre-application stage, especially for large-scale and sensitive developments.  Pre-application advice will ensure that the requirements within the Validation Checklist are tailored to the site in question and are equal to the scale of the potential application.  ECC wishes to continue to encourage, expand and promote engagement through pre-application advice. 
This process can also be used following the refusal of planning permission to understand whether there is scope for changes to a scheme, which may overcome the reason(s) for refusal.
Planning Performance Agreements
Some larger and more complex planning applications would most appropriately be dealt with through a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) which is defined as 'an agreement between a local planning authority and an applicant to provide a project management framework for handing a major planning application'.
If your proposal is suitable for a PPA by the planning officer dealing with your initial request for pre-application advice, this option will be discussed and offered to you, usually at the first meeting.
PPA's are subject to a different charging structure to pre-application advice requests, which is shown in the scale of charges in the PPA Fees section.  If your application does proceed as a PPA, any payment you have already made for pre-application advice will be discounted against the PPA fee.

Pre-application advice will assist in the submission of a complete and accurate application for planning permission, which complies with the relevant policies, plans and guidance. However, planning officers cannot give any guarantees about the eventual decision that will be made on a formal application at the pre-application stage. The final decision on planning applications is made by County Council Members via the Planning Committee, or in some cases, by senior officers. Decisions are only made after consultations with adjoining occupiers, statutory consultee bodies and other interested parties following receipt of a formal planning application and a detailed assessment of the facts of the case. Where pre-application advice is not followed, subsequent planning applications are likely to be determined without further negotiations.

The following form should be completed and submitted to us as detailed within the document: