We've all heard the phrase 'every journey begins with a single step' and whilst being a little cliche, it is true. So to say 'every great development begins with an idea' is also perfectly true, and although some are better than others, most are worth exploring a little more.
The local planning authority offer a pre-application service, which is recommended, although not essential. Putting aside fees that SJC Planning will charge you to act as agent, there are fees payable to the local authority, which are available on their website.
You're here, you're already looking at what is potentially the next step! That's a great start, so finish this step and drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you've made contact, the next step is usually to have a quick conversation over the phone. This can be to make an appointment for a site visit, to find out a little more about you and your idea, or simply to say 'Your idea is great, but at the moment, planning policy wouldn't allow it' (and for the record, I was told this in the early 2000s, prior to my life in planning, that I would 'never be able to build there' yet I am writing these very words from the house that I was told I would never be able to build!)
Fee proposal time! This is where we agree a formal fee proposal - what I will do for you, outlining the likely costs and the likely timeframe (if relevant). I will also send you my formal Terms & Conditions for you to sign.
Depending on what it is, this may include a survey, sketching, involving other specialists (such as an ecologist, architect, structural engineer, tree consultant, highways consultant or builder). I like to think that I have a broad knowledge base, but I am far from qualified to give expert advice relating to great crested newts, bats or badgers, whether a brick arch can support the weight of a steel beam, or if a car travelling at 30mph in a 50mph zone is within the 85% speed ... but I know people who do!
Once your idea is on paper, whether drawn up, sketched out or taken written form (or usually a combination of all three) a pre-application submission is made to the local planning authority. The best way to describe this, is that it is like a draft planning application - the submission will set out what you want to do, outlining the relevant planning policies and 'sell' your idea in planning terms, providing enough information to get an understanding of what's wanted, but not so much that it is impossible to change.
There are three options for pre-application submission; bronze which is entirely desk based, silver which includes an office or virtual meeting, and gold offering a site visit and meeting. Generally, I advise either bronze or gold, depending on the nature of the proposal.
Depending on which option is applied for, will govern (largely) how long it takes to receive formal advice from the local planning authority, and how successful a planning application is likely to be based on the proposal as put forward or what tweaks, additions or elements are needed.
Once the advice is received, I will read through and provide you with what it means in real terms. It might be overwhelmingly positive and require nothing further, alternatively, the advice might set out the reasons that an application would be unlikely to be supported.
The pre-application process can be used to obtain formal advice so you can take forward your dreams, but also, to provide third parties with an idea of what may be possible, which is especially useful in the case of properties which are on the market, or potentially going to be made available for sale.
If the pre-application submission is for you and positive, the next step is usually a PLANNING APPLICATION!