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Planning pre-application advice

All enquiries on whether planning permission (and related consent) is required and if it is likely to be acceptable, should be made by using our pre-application advice. This service incurs a fee.

Our website provides a range of information about common projects. See our residential planning section. You can also check if you need planning permission or building regulations approval using the Planning Portal.

Uttlesford District Council promotes early engagement with the council (including councillors) and the local community. Officers will generally be unable to enter into discussions on schemes, nor seek amendments, once a formal planning application has been submitted. Thus, our pre-application advice service can assist in better outcomes and more timely decisions down the line.

Planning pre-application advice service

The Planning Service offers pre-application advice across all types of applications. See details and costs.

The service includes background research on your site by planning officers, including specialist advice from our conservation officer, design officer, and on planning obligations (where relevant); meetings with the relevant specialist officers; and written advice and feedback.

Where required, we will contact you within 10 working days of your request to set up a meeting. After your meeting, we will provide you with written advice within 15 working days. Where no meeting is requested, we will respond with written advice within 28 days.

Before attending a meeting, please provide a site plan for the property in question. Site plans are available to purchase from the Planning Portal website and help us to identify your property. Simply mark a red line around the property and land.

In addition, if you have drawn up any plans, or have photos or other material for your proposal, it will be helpful to attach these items.


If you are seeking an opinion on a planning application, you should use the pre-application advice service. If you need a written confirmation that a proposal does, or does not require planning permission please use the Certificate of Lawful Development procedure, as we are unable to do this over the phone or via email.

For householder extensions, please be aware that these may be covered by permitted development.  You can find out about prior approval for extensions on the Planning Portal.


Pre-application advice is not placed on the public planning register. However, if you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), there is a statutory code of practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals with obligations of confidence.

The Council will release pre-application information as standard practice, as appropriate, following a request under FOI or EIR. Should you not wish your pre-application information to be released, then you must explain to us when you make your application why you regard the information you have provided as confidential.

If we receive a request for disclosure of the information, we will take full account of your explanation but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality will be maintained in all circumstances.

Certificate of Lawful Development

If you require a formal decision as to whether an existing or proposed development is lawful, then you can submit an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness. There are 2 kinds of certificate that you can apply for:

  • Certificates of Lawful Existing Use or Development
  • Certificates of Lawful Proposed Use or Development

Section 10 of the Planning and Compensation Act 1991 established a procedure that enables anyone who wishes to do so, to apply to the local planning authority to determine whether a proposed use or operation, or an existing operational development or an existing use of land, or any other matter constituting a failure to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted, is lawful, and if so, be granted a certificate to that effect.

A certificate granted for a proposed, or an existing use, operation or activity will specify (by reference to a plan or drawing) the area of land included in the certificate and describe the precise nature of the use, operation or activity which is lawful. The certificate will give the reason for determining the use or operation to be lawful and specify the date of the application for the certificate.

Guidance notes, checklists and application forms for Lawful Development Certificates can be found on our planning application forms page.


If you urgently require confirmation that you did not require planning permission in advance of the usual 8-week time frames, we offer a fast-track Certificate of Lawfulness Existing service.

On submission, your application will be allocated to a dedicated case officer who will issue a decision within 5 working days (subject to all relevant information having been provided on submission). This is subject to a fast-track fee.

Planning Performance Agreements

Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) are voluntary agreements between a Local Planning Authority (LPA) and an applicant. Their purpose is to deliver high quality sustainable development that is based on a clear vision and development objectives. They provide a structured way for giving advice to applicants before applications are made and processing planning applications, to an agreed project plan and work programme.

For example the PPA would cover the following:

  • a series of meetings with officers of Uttlesford District Council and appointed specialists, to be agreed as part of a framework
  • fully resource and service the PPA from a Uttlesford District Council Development Management perspective
  • facilitate pre-application discussions and feedback with members of Uttlesford District Council Planning Committee, key portfolio holders and representatives of relevant town/parish council
  • pre-application discussion with Essex County Council Quality Review Panel; fees for the Quality Review Panel review not included within the PPA
  • screening/scoping work under the EIA Regulations
  • co-ordination of the submitted planning application, and consultation responses; early identification of Uttlesford District Council Planning Committee meeting
  • agreement of conditions
  • S106 negotiations, but not including legal and monitoring fees

Disclosure of information on pre-application discussions

The council does not publicise details of planning advice discussions with potential developers prior to a formal planning application being submitted. At formal planning application stage, such material is considered less sensitive and may be released.

It is possible that the council will receive requests for disclosure of planning advice prior to submission of a formal application and these will be dealt with on a case by case basis under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Apply for pre-application advice

To apply for pre-application advice please use the online or PDF forms. 

Please note we usually charge for this service.

Apply online

Apply using our online pre-application advice form.

Start now

Download a PDF form

Apply for pre-application advice (PDF) [341KB]

Charges for pre-application advice from 1 April 2024

All charges include VAT at 20%.

Pre-application advice2024/25
Written advice only113.00
Meeting 1 hr (virtual) and written advice189.00
Meeting 1 hr (on-site) and written advice284.00
Follow up written advice113.00
Householder including heritage*/listed building consent
Written advice only378.00
Meeting 1 hr (virtual) and written advice536.00
Meeting 1 hr (on-site) and written advice630.00
Follow up written advice246.00
Minor development
Written advice only289.00
Meeting 1 hr (virtual) and written advice441.00
Meeting 1 hr (on-site) and written advice536.00
Follow up written advice289.00
5-9 units including up to 2 virtual meetings2,325.00
Minor development including heritage* advice
Written advice only485.00
Meeting 1 hr (virtual) and written advice800.00
Meeting 1 hr (on-site) and written advice945.00
Follow up written advice485.00
Major Development 
Scoping Meeting - 1 hour virtual meeting to discuss high level principle (outline) and discuss further programme / PPA**980.00
10-25 dwellings - to include at least 1 planning officer at up to 2 hours virtual meetings and written response (any additional officers/specialists will incur an additional fee)*7,875.00
26-99 dwellings - to include at least 1 planning officer at up to 3 hours virtual meetings and written response (any additional officers/specialists will incur an additional fee)*13,650.00
100-199 dwellings - to include at least 1 planning officer at up to 4 hours virtual meetings and written response (any additional officers/specialists will incur an additional fee)*25,200.00
Major or complex minor pre-app where the applicant does not want to enter into a PPA with the councilPOA
Other charges 
High Hedge complaints650.00

* Includes access to heritage advice (locally listed buildings, ancient monuments, works or development in a conservation area), ecology Advice (biodiversity net gain) and urban design advice. Additional advice, for example environmental protection/noise, will incur an additional fee.

** Includes schemes of 5-9 units and later netted off full pre-application fee.

The council will no longer provide an advisory service in respect of trees. General advice on tree matters can be obtained from an arboriculturist.

Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) band categories

Schemes of 200 or more dwellings or 4,000sqm or more of commercial floorspace are likely to include a breadth of issues and may benefit from officers and developers iteratively developing proposals and evolving designs. This is best achieved via a PPA for which a bespoke fee will be agreed.

Additional services

Charges are on a cost recovery basis only. If additional work/meetings is required there will be an additional payment based on the relevant hourly rate of the officer/s required to participate.


On receipt of a completed application form, fee and plans we will check the information submitted and allocate this to an officer. If we need more information we will notify you by post or email and your enquiry will remain unallocated until the additional information is received.


  • Development of exception sites by housing associations: this will be for new houses to be constructed on exception sites only, and not for affordable housing schemes as part of larger general-market housing schemes.
  • Development by town and parish councils for the benefit of residents.
  • Development by community groups for the benefit of residents: this will include for example, village hall groups, scout groups, sports groups and other non-profit making community groups. This however only applies to projects for that group, and if part of a wider development scheme would be subject to the standard fee.