A survey by PlanningResource.co.uk found that, on average, councils in England are charging £832 for pre-application advice for small residential planning permissions. This is despite the fact all councils admit they will not commit to stick to the opinion in these pre-apps when it comes to deciding on a subsequent planning application.
The £832 figure is an average for all local authorities in England for pre-app "advice" for a project of up to 5 homes. The highest any council charges for this is actually a whopping £3,709. The highest charge levied by a council for a pre-app for any kind of development is a staggering £26,000.
Our view is, going to a council for such "advice" is rarely worth it, even at the lower end of the price scale. You are getting the opinion of a junior council planning officer on policies that are not black-and-white. The issues are usually matters of judgement and minds can be changed. And the council will most often be looking for reasons to block your development, not find ways to make it happen.
Getting a formal refusal is damaging and repeated failed applications are costly, so we are not saying don't get advice before you put in a planning application. But if you want an expert, impartial take on it, by someone on your side (i.e. someone trying to make it happen), then get a planning consultant, like Planix, to advise you.
We'll charge you a small flat fee, for which we'll look at the situation on the ground and we'll review all the planning policies related to it, to find a way to make your plans a reality. If it can't be done, we'll say so, to save you wasting your money. But quite often we can guide you through the often underutilised routes to getting the permission you want. There are dozens of times where we have helped people get planning consent, even when a pre-app from the council said no. That's because we used to be council officers and local authority councillors ourselves, so we know what the rules are and the routes to get them interpreted in your favour.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if we can help you.