Planning advice from the council

We operate a free Duty Officer advisory service at its offices for basic pre-application advice and general planning enquiries. Other pre-application advice is charged for and full details can be found below.


Planning pre-application advice service
The Planning Service is currently under-going a major review relating to the way it delivers its services.  As a consequence of this, resources are being focussed on specific areas of the service in the short term meaning that we can currently only provide a pre-application service for major planning applications. However, we hope to be able to offer pre-application service for all applications soon and will advise our customers when we are able to do so.  We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.


Planning duty officer

The Duty Officer is available to see at the district council's Saffron Walden offices or by calling UConnect on 01799 510510. It operates Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 12.30pm.

This service is, however, for basic general enquiries such as whether planning permission or listed building consent required.

The duty officer can only give general verbal advice. 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.

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 two kinds of certificate that you can be 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 and checklists page. Further advice is available on the Planning Portal.

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, developing supplementary planning documents and processing planning applications, to an agreed project plan and work programme.

Pre-application advice charges

The council charges for other pre-application advice as set out below. To apply for this advice please use the form below and send with it with the appropriate fee to The Council Offices, London Road Saffron Walden Essex CB11 4ER.


Charges for pre-application advice (from 1 April 2018)

Conservation or listed building advice
The council no longer offers a conservation or listed building advice service. If you need advice, we would suggest that you consider contacting a local  heritage consultant. The council is unable to recommend anyone and we do not keep a list of approved consultants.



2018/19 charge

Does the charge include VAT?

Written Advice£60.00Yes
Meeting 1/2 hr and written advice£150.00Yes
Listed Building written advice Not available at present£175.00Yes
Listed Building meeting 1 hr and written advice Not available at present£300.00Yes


Non-Residential inc. change of use

2018/19 charge

Does the charge include VAT?

Less than 1000 sqm. written advice£150.00Yes
Less than 1000 sqm. meeting and written advice£300.00Yes
1000-1999 sqm. written advice£300.00Yes
1000-1999 sqm. meeting and written advice£750.00          -  Yes
2000 - 4999 sqm. meeting and written advice£1250.00      -  Yes
Over 5000 sqm. meeting and written advicePOA 



2018/19 charge

Does the charge include VAT?

1 dwelling£250.00Yes
1 Listed dwelling£400.00Yes
2-9 dwellings£500.00Yes
10-30 dwellings£1000.00Yes
31-100 dwellings£1650.00Yes
101-300 dwellings£2400.00Yes
301 + dwellingsPOA 

All charges include VAT at 20%

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


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
  • Development by Community Groups: 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.


At that stage you will be contacted and an appointment will be made. Meetings will be held at Council Offices, Saffron Walden unless officers consider a site visit is required. Following the meeting, Officers will confirm their advice to you in writing. This will normally be within 35 days of receipt of the enquiry, in a formal letter or e-mail, depending on what is agreed at the meeting.

Written response

The response will normally be sent within 35 days of receipt of the enquiry.