Pre-application planning advice

Please note that we are currently unable to offer pre-application advice site meetings. Where a site visit is required an officer will carry this out unaccompanied in line with current Government guidance on social distancing.

Vale of White Horse District Council is committed to providing an efficient and effective planning service which meets government performance targets for processing applications.  We welcome discussions about planning applications before formal submission.  Please see pre-application charges for information on the different levels of service and relevant costs that we offer.

We believe the benefits of such discussions are:

  • They can help applicants understand how we will apply policies and guidance to their proposal.
  • They can improve the quality of planning application submissions by identifying at an early stage where we will need specialist input.
  • They could help applications be registered more speedily and can improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.
  • They can save an applicant’s time and money by identifying if a proposal is unacceptable in principle.
  • We want to provide a positive climate for pre-application discussions, offering impartial and professional advice within an agreed timeframe.  We will allocate your enquiry to a  planning officer who will co-ordinate comments from internal colleagues, and provide you with feedback (generally within 20 working days).

The service is not compulsory and may not be appropriate for all situations.  However, we actively encourage pre-application discussions for all development proposals before submitting for formal consideration.

Requests for pre-application advice that have been received from 3 January 2017 onwards and the council’s response are made public once a subsequent relevant planning application is made. This includes the submitted documents, our response and any interim correspondence public. We will endeavour to ensure that all personal information such as telephone numbers and email addresses are removed from documentation.

A statement issued by DCLG in February 2016 confirmed central government’s expectation that developers should be more transparent.  Whilst Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) can be used to obtain pre-application information, this information is usually made public when a related planning application is submitted.

Further important information

We will make every effort to make sure that the advice given in the pre-application process is as accurate as possible.  However, any advice given by council officers for pre-application enquiries does not constitute a formal response or decision by the council in respect of any future planning applications.  Whilst such advice will be a material consideration, it cannot be held to bind the council in its validation or formal determination of a subsequent application.

If an application is subsequently submitted which fails to take on board advice given by officers, then we are likely to refuse it without further discussion with the applicant or their agent.

If the option of a meeting has been selected, the Council reserve the right in its absolute discretion not to provide a meeting if the proposal is considered unacceptable after consideration of the documents provided. An appropriate partial refund of the fee will be made to reflect this.

From 3 January 2017 we have treated information provided as part of a pre-application advice request as confidential until such time that a related formal planning application is received. Once a formal planning application is received all information relating to the pre-application request and our response will be made public.