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Pre-application advice service

Benefit of the pre-application service

You should be aware that we're experiencing a high volume of requests and the advertised time frames are taking longer than anticipated. You will therefore not be given a target date for when you can expect to receive a written response, but meetings and discussions will continue to take place. Applications where you request multiple options to be considered will not be accepted under one application without an adjusted fee and timeframe being agreed with the case officer.

Brentwood Borough Council (BBC)’s Planning Development Management Team can offer you advice on the likelihood of gaining planning consent, identifying and advising upon any potential issues which may arise. Whilst an optional service, it can provide a useful solution for applicants who wish to avoid unnecessary delays in the planning process before the commencement of works.

This service is available to both applicants and agents.

The pre-application service allows for an opportunity to discuss the proposed development with the future Planning Officer who will assess your application.

Whilst we cannot design a scheme for you, we can provide a professional judgement on the likelihood of success of an application outlining the policy requirements of the local development plan and national policy requirements.

Your agent and/or architects are responsible for designing your proposed scheme, ensuring its accuracy and compliance with Building Regulations and for finding design solutions where harm may be perceived.

The service is not a design workshop and there is an expectation that agents and architects will interpret any concerns and provide a satisfactory solution which, in some cases, may not fit the applicant’s original design brief.

Submitting a formal planning application can be complicated, expensive and time-consuming; especially if permission is refused.

Our pre-application service allows you to ‘test the water’, helping you to:

  • Avoid unnecessary delays to the commencement of works caused by invalid applications and subsequent amendments;  
  • Save the cost of pursuing unacceptable applications;
  • Reduce the time (and fees) of your professional advisors;
  • Understand the relevant policies that apply to your development;
  • Work collaboratively with the Planning Department to overcome resolvable problems.

Type of advice available

Householder Advice (HHA)

Developments which fall within the curtilage (boundary) of an established terrace, semi-detached and detached dwelling house. For example, dormer windows, single/two storey extensions, outbuildings, vehicular crossovers (dropped kerbs). HHA advice does not include flats (see Minor Development). Such advice can also include residential dwellings within a conservation area, within the setting of a listed building and a listed building.

Change of Use (CoU)

A Change of Use can include both residential and commercial developments. For example, a change of the land use to additional residential garden; or paddocks; and buildings to non-residential use.

Minor Development

Minor Development can include the construction of dwellings between 2 and 9 in number and land up to 0.5 hectares (ha).

The definition of Minor Development has the same meaning as used in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015; Article 2

Major Development

Major Development can include the construction of dwellings of dwellings between 10-199 dwellings or land up to 5 hectares (ha).

The definition of Major Development has the same meaning as used in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015; Article 2

Strategic Development

Strategic Development includes any developments greater in number than Major Development. 

You should be aware that some schemes do not require planning permission. Therefore, please check the interactive guide on the Planning Portal. If you do not need planning permission, then you do not need to apply for pre-application advice. If you wish for the Council to determine the lawfulness of what you’re proposing; a certificate of lawful development (s192) application can be submitted.

What you need to provide

It is within the interests of all parties that plans, sketches and any other supporting information is submitted alongside your pre-application form. Where limited or insufficient information has been provided, this will reflect in the level of advice received. We would therefore advise the following information is submitted alongside your pre-application:

  • Site location plan outlining the sites curtilage within red at an appropriate scale, i.e. 1:1250;
  • Details of the current use of the site and any relevant planning history;
  • Details of the nature and scale of the development proposed. We would encourage the submission of drawings which illustrate existing and proposed: floor plans, elevations, block plans, roof plans etc. Please ensure the relevant scale bars are attached to these drawings;
  • The submission of photographs and aerial photography is also encouraged.

For home extensions or domestic outbuildings you should send the following information so that we can offer the best advice:

  • proposals that explain what you wish to do, including measurements in metric
  • drawings at a scale of 1:200 – including buildings and trees – showing what you wish to do, with measurements in metric
  • a site plan in metric to show where the extension will go in relation to the existing dwelling and adjoining dwellings
  • photographs of the site
  • a daytime phone number or email address

The onus is on applicants to provide information in support of their pre-application submission. The role of the Planning Officer is to assess the information submitted providing their professional judgement on the proposed scheme in accordance with local and national policy.

What else you should consider

Depending on the type of development proposed, schemes will likely be assessed against the criteria outlined within the currently adopted Brentwood Replacement Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework. Whilst advice can be provided on the planning constraints of the schemes proposed, it is important to recognise there are other consultee bodies who may have a vested interest in the proposed development such as:

  • Where development proposals fall within a conservation area, within the setting of a listed building or involves works to a listed building, the Historic Buildings and Conservation Officer specialist advice will be required. Please refer to the table below.
  • Where development proposals relate to the Highway(i.e. a vehicular crossover/dropped kerb) or in relation to Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), specialist advice from Essex County Council will be required. These operate their own charging schedules which can be found via the Essex County Council website. Where agreed in advance, they may also attend meetings with the Planning Officer.

How to apply for pre-application advice

Details of our charges are provided in the pre-application advice service fees section (see link in related pages section).

Simply complete the form below and we will acknowledge receipt of your request and validate the proposal once the supporting information and fee have been received. We will then provide the name and contact details of the Planning Officer allocated to your pre-application.

For POA advice types, please email

You should be aware that any advice given by the Council, in relation to pre-application enquires, will be based on the Planning Officer’s professional judgement. Their response will not constitute a formal decision of the Council with regard to future planning applications which will be the subject to wider consultation and publicity. Although the Planning Officer may indicate the likely outcome of a formal application, no guarantees can or will be given about the decision that will be made on any such application.

Finally, pre-application advice can be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This requires us to make all documents available to members of the public, if requested under this act. Information provided as part of our pre-application discussions may also be published on the Authority’s website at our discretion. Pre-application advice can only be treated as confidential if there are clear issues of commercial sensitivity or other significant reasons why this information cannot be made public which should be clearly outlined within the documents at submission stage. If a planning application is made as a result of the pre-application advice, all of the documentation may be publicly available, including any background papers to the application.