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Householder pre-application advice

Covid-19 Lockdown Period Service Update

The Planning Department is continuing to operate and process pre-application requests during the lockdown period. Please be advised that all meetings will be carried out by telephone for the temporary lockdown period. We will send a Microsoft Teams calendar invite should you wish to have a virtual meeting with your case officer. Please indicate your preference of telephone call or virtual meeting within the form.

For householder applications (extensions and alterations to residential properties, including related Listed Building and Archaeology advice) we offer householder pre-application advice via a pre-arranged paid for meeting with a planning officer. 
 
We can give you advice on whether your works would be acceptable when you apply for planning permission. Please note we can give you advice on one proposal only per appointment.

What are the benefits of getting pre-application Council advice?

If the pre-application advice is followed:

  • avoidance of unexpected delays and problems. We cannot offer guarantees but it is more likely to result in a positive and timely outcome to a planning application;

  • a greater degree of certainty over the general acceptability of proposals;

  • clarification on how national, regional and local policies will be applied;

  • early identification of areas that will need specialist advice;

  • early input where the work does not meet planning policy;

  • a potential reduction in time professional advisers spend in working up proposals; and

  • clarification on what application form to use and what drawings and information to submit for your planning application to be considered ‘valid’ and registered quickly.

We offer pre-application advice via a pre-arranged paid for 30 minute meeting with a planning officer for householder applications (extensions and alterations to residential properties, including related Listed Building and Archaeology advice). Advice is given on one proposal per appointment and only information attached with your submission will be discussed within the pre-application meeting.

How much does it cost?

£252 including VAT for a 30 minute meeting and written advice. Pre-application service fees are non-refundable. All fees are based on estimated officer time and hourly costs and aim to provide cost recovery only.

When will the meeting take place?

Virtual meetings are available on:

  • Tuesdays between 2pm and 3.30pm
  • Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9.30am and 12noon and between 2pm and 4.30pm

Meetings must be booked at least three weeks in advance.

What information do I need to provide?

The more information received with your submission, the more informative the response will be.  If your plans are inaccurate, our advice may not stand when you come to apply for planning permission so ensure your documents support your proposal, you have the mandatory site plan ready and all plans are to scale.
We require:

  • A completed online application form
  • An electronic copy of an OS-style site location plan at a scale of 1:1250, clearly showing surrounding roads and properties, with the boundaries of the application site outlined in red. This plan is mandatory for all pre-application advice.   If you do not have a Site Location Plan at 1:1250, maps can be purchased from the Planning Portal.

Please also read our Privacy Notice - Pre-application advice

An example of a site location plan is shown below.

  • electronic copies of any additional plans to be considered (example below)
  • any other supporting documents

How do I apply/book a meeting?

Apply online - before proceeding:  

  • please have your documents ready to upload. Multiple documents can be uploaded – please note the documents must be uploaded together in one upload. 
  • Online payment is required at the time of booking 
  • A minimum of 3 weeks is needed between booking and the appointment date

Apply here

What happens next?

You will receive an automated acknowledgement email. This will be followed in a few days by an email invitation to join the appointment via Teams.

If you do not complete your booking or payment is not made when booking your appointment, the pre-application request will be cancelled and you will receive an email confirming the appointment has been cancelled.

We aim to send you written advice within three weeks of your meeting (unless otherwise agreed with your planning officer). The advice may remain relevant for up to 1 year, subject to legislative or policy changes,

You may wish to consult other bodies about your proposal such as Hertfordshire County Council’s Highways, or the Environment Agency some of which may have their own pre-application charges. Please also note important information concerning Privacy and requests under the Environmental Information Regulations.

The advice given is officer advice, provided in good faith at this point in time, given the nature of the legislation existing today and based on the facts provided by you in writing in your request and at the pre-application meeting. It is therefore given without prejudice, is not binding in any way on the Council and does not form a judgement of whether any subsequent application will be approved or refused.

Agents

If you require your client to pay for the meeting please follow the process below

  • Client pays the fee of £252 by BACS, payment details below
  • email a completed copy of the pre-application form to planningpreapp@stalbans.gov.uk, attaching the mandatory site plan, supporting documents and confirmation of payment.

BACS: Sort Code: 40-40-01
Account Number: 7140 2609
Account Name: St Albans City & District Council
Please quote site address as reference

Once you have provided the information listed above and paid for the pre-application service, you receive an automated acknowledgement email. Within 5 working days you will receive your confirmation email containing the date and time of your pre-application appointment.

Cancellation Charges

Where a request for pre-application advice is made and subsequently cancelled, the following charges will apply:

  • Cancellation notified within 0 to 5 working days of the submission of the original request - 75% of fee refunded
  • Cancellation notified within 6 to 10 working days of the submission of the original request - 50% of fee refunded
  • No refunds will be made for cancellations notified 11 or more working days after the submission of the original request 

Frequently asked questions

I just want to know if I need planning permission for my project Toggle accordion

Planning Permission and Building Regulations Consent is often required before most building works are carried out or changes made in the use of land or premises.

We can tell you if you require planning permission for a project when you apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness. See Do I need Planning Permission?  

I am a local householder. What do I do if I want pre-application planning advice? Toggle accordion

If you need planning information on extensions and alterations to a residential property you can do this by:

  • Looking online (free).  
    The Planning Portal is owned and managed by PortalPlanQuest Limited (PPQ). It provides simple-to-use interactive guidance for householders about a wide range of planning related matters; 

See our  Local Plan Policies;

You can also see what your neighbours have had consent to build or if there are any planning constraints on your home.

  • Getting advice from a Council planning officer (£240). 

  • Getting advice from a planning agent (architect or surveyor (charges vary).  

Check they are registered with a recognised professional body: 
Royal Town Planning Institute
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
Architects' Registration Board.

Why does the Council charge for pre-application planning advice? Toggle accordion

St Albans City and District Council has one of the busiest District planning department in the country.

Planning application fees do not cover the cost of pre-application advice. The provision of quality pre-application advice is time consuming and costly. The charge we make covers the cost of providing the service based on estimated officer time and hourly costs. The Council is keen to ensure the costs incurred are recovered directly, rather than falling as a general burden on council tax payers.

Can I be assured that my planning application will be dealt with quickly? Toggle accordion

The speed at which we are able to process planning applications is affected by a number of aspects that are outside our direct control.  These are: 

  • The rise in demand for our planning services; 

  • The general scarcity of trained planning officers, something that all planning departments are experiencing.

We aim to process 75% of all planning applications within 8 weeks.