Pre-application advice – what we offer

If you already know that you require planning permission, or if you have established that you need it through our duty officer system or the planning portal, a pre-application submission is the best way to understand the acceptability of your project before you commit to making a planning application.

We offer three different tiers of pre-application advice, each tailored to the complexity of your project. The detail of each tier is set out in the following sections:

  1. Standard advice
  2. Development team approach
  3. Planning performance agreement (PPA)

Also on this page:

Standard advice

This service is well suited for householder projects that require more detailed consideration but also developments on straightforward sites that only requires advice from a planning officer.

You will be allocated a case officer who will visit the site and provide feedback in writing within two weeks. If necessary, your officer will also meet with you to discuss the proposal. If multiple meetings are necessary this will incur additional fees.

This service is not suitable for all projects. Developments that will require specialist input such as conservation officers, tree officers, environmental health and highway engineers will be considered through our development team approach (see below) where our specialists provide valuable advice.

If your officer considers you require additional input, they will discuss this with you shortly after we receive your submission.

Development team approach

For more complex proposals, your officer will lead a development team made up from specialist disciplines to provide a coordinated response for you.

This service promotes early design review and will provide you with timely advice that can add significant value to your application.

Our design surgery meets on a monthly basis in our 'urban room' and gives you the opportunity to present your scheme. It is chaired by the development management team leader and is attended by case officers, our specialists (including representatives from the townscape team, conservation and heritage and trees) and a representative from the Highways Authority when necessary.

Each review will last about an hour and commences with an opportunity for you to make a 15 minute presentation to the team to explain your proposal. The team will then ask questions and provide some initial comments on the proposals. Following the meeting you will receive written feedback from your case officer.

We work closely with other design review bodies including:

  • The Cheltenham Architects’ Panel (an independent panel of Cheltenham based architects) meets monthly and provides an opportunity to present pre-application proposals and their comments directly feed-in to our assessment of your proposal.
  • The Gloucestershire Design Panel conducts valuable design review for more complex and significant proposals.
  • The Civic Society also engages with pre-applications.

Attendance at any of these meetings should be discussed with your case officer who will make the necessary arrangements.

We can also involve local councilors in the process as they can provide equally valuable insight. This is carefully managed to ensure confidentiality and to prevent pre-judgement and councilors engaged in the process are guided by the councils planning code of conduct. Pre-application is the most appropriate time for this type of engagement.

Submissions that follow the development team approach may evolve over time and require our ongoing involvement. We are committed to this as we see the value it can bring to projects but we charge for additional meetings and/or feedback unless negotiated through a planning performance agreement.

Planning performance agreements (PPAs)

The aim of a PPA is to improve the quality of planning applications and the decision-making process. By giving you a clear understanding of the resource we will invest and in agreeing the key milestones and timelines that all parties will work within, they can offer a greater level of clarity, certainty and confidence.

They supplement and build on our development team approach and terms are agreed on a case by case basis. Because of this they attract a higher fee.

A PPA aims to set out a realistic timetable for the delivery of the project, identifying and defining key milestones and identifying key team members, stakeholders and consultees.

They can run for the duration of a development proposal if desired; from pre-application advice through to validation, determination and discharge of conditions. Such certainty throughout the course of a project can prove invaluable.

While a PPA will help ensure an application is processed to an agreed timetable, the agreement does not prejudice the outcome of a planning application nor does it guarantee a planning permission.

What we need from you

For each tier advice, we ask that you provide as much detail of your proposal as possible but as a minimum:

  • a completed application form and the necessary fee
  • location plan
  • a brief summary of what you are trying to achieve and why
  • drawings and/or written description of the development explaining the proposal

If insufficient information is provided, we may not be able to process your request but you will be given the opportunity to provide additional details.

What you will receive

For standard pre-application submissions we will conduct a site visit, meet with you if necessary and provide a written response within two weeks. If this is not possible, a clear timetable and explanation will be provided.

If you opt for our development team approach, your case officer will contact you within a week of your submission to arrange a site visit and any subsequent meetings. Your officer will discuss who will be involved in the project and also the merits of a PPA if appropriate.

If your proposal is to be presented at design surgery and/or architects’ panel, we will take it to the next appropriate meeting. Both meet monthly and your case officer will be able to advise on dates.

Following a site visit and design review/meeting, written feedback will be provided within three weeks. If this is not possible, a clear timetable and explanation will be provided.

If the proposal merits a PPA, the timescales may be different but this will be discussed with you on an individual basis.

The feedback you receive will give:

  • our views on your proposal including feedback from specialist disciplines (where relevant)
  • advice on how to improve the scheme if necessary
  • commentary on relevant policies
  • guidance in relation to the documents and statements necessary to validate your application.

With all of these services, your proposal may evolve over time. We welcome ongoing involvement with your projects but will charge for additional meetings or feedback on revised proposals unless negotiated through a planning performance agreement.

Please note: Your feedback will be the opinion of officers, based on their understanding of current law and policy. It will not bind the planning committee to a particular decision and the weight given to the advice may decline over time as circumstances and policy change.