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Blog: Blog2

Do I need Pre-application advice for Planning?

One of the first things to consider for any fit-out or to sign any lease for your new business is whether if planning application is required. Even though, you may be a clinic or even food and beverage service and wish to take over a unit of the last occupier, the unit itself may fall under a different class, resulting having to submit planning application for Change of Use. The most daunting thing is having to apply for Change of Use, Advertising Consent or even Listed Building application. The council offers a pre-application advice service, but is it necessary? It depends on your project and comes down to cost, time and getting the approval for a design you're happy with.

What does pre-application advice cost?

This varies from council to council but it is usually between £50-£200 for a meeting and follow up letter. Most would agree the cost itself is not an unreasonable, especially if it results in a smooth planning process and gaining a desirable outcome.

How long does the application process take?

The pre-application process usually takes two to six weeks, the actual planning application is a minimum of 8 weeks after this, the additional wait can be frustrating if you are keen to get a move on and time is the essence to sign the lease for your business.

When the council receives your planning application, there is approximately a week or so for 'validation', where they check they have everything they need to proceed. Pre-application advice should ensure that you are using the correct form and submitting the correct drawings.

However, it could be that finding a good design professional who has the experience with similar projects, should avoid these pitfalls, without needing pre-application advice, to save the time and cost where these can be focused on the design or other areas of your fit-out.

In some cases, depending on the complexity of the project, pre-application advice could save you time and headache in the long run by avoiding a decision of refusal and a lengthy appeals process. Mostly for a business ready to sign a lease for a unit that is in similar nature will not require pre-application advice. Many planning officers are happy to speak to you about your proposal during the eight week determination period and will let you submit minor amendments that do not alter the character or description of the proposal. However, some planning officers are less inclined to engage with you once the application has been submitted, particularly if the council is very strict about the pre-application procedure. Should your planning officer is unresponsive during the determination process and your application is refused, there is a second chance. Your planning officer will need to provide feedback as to why your proposal was refused, from which you can learn to re-submit your application for free (within a year). Alternatively, you have the right to appeal if you think the decision is unreasonable.

How do I get the proposal I really want?

A good design consultant will help you with the planning process to gain the best outcome, whether it be Change of Use, Advertising Consent, or Listed Building Consent. They will consider your brief alongside the council’s planning policy and submit an application for the best case scenario, and perhaps with some options for compromises during discussions with the planning officer.

Do consider that if you wish to go into the pre-application advice or planning application alone, without professional advice, you might start the planning process with a hurdles of constraints.

Find the right design consultant

Choosing the right consultant for your business project is a critical first step, but can also be a bit unnerving.

Many small businesses would search planning consultant for advice (which would make sense), however these practices often deal with larger developments and are expensive, sometimes they will separately bring on board a draughtsmen to survey and produce the drawings required.

With approaching a design consultant, like Black Shade Design, we would factor in the brief and objective for the business, the design, layout, planning permission, survey the new unit and producing the appropriate drawings required for the council, not to mention the Landlord's approval as well as for Contractors costing and fit-out. If any of this is what you are looking for, please get in touch.

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