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Planning pre-application advice service

Using our advice service before making a planning application can help things go more smoothly.

We are currently taking action to address a backlog in applications. Please visit our planning applications backlog page for more information. We apologise that we may not be able to respond to all pre-application enquiries within the stated timeframes at the current time, but will keep you updated on progress.

This service is not a substitute for a planning application.

This is a service to give advice on specific planning proposals before an application is made, available for a Icon for pdf Fee [22KB] . For general planning enquiries, please contact the Duty Planning Officer.

The pre-application advice service cannot be used to advise whether or not planning permission is required for a proposal. To receive a formal confirmation of whether planning permission is required, you need to apply for a certificate of lawful development.

For strategic, larger or complex development proposals we encourage the use of Planning Performance Agreements. A planning performance agreement is a project management tool which the local planning authorities and applicants can use to agree timescales, actions and resources for handling particular applications. It should cover the pre-application and application stages but may also extend through to the post-application stage. Please contact us via in relation to those proposals.

We are currently reviewing our online pre-application form. Please complete our PDF Icon for pdf Pre Application Advice Application Form [15KB]  to apply.

How will pre-application advice be given?

Type of advice

Nature of advice

Timeframe for a response

Advice in principle

This is the fastest pre-application enquiry available based on the principle of the development only. It comprises a desktop study only, with no visit to the site, no consultations with any internal or external consultees and no meeting.
A response is provided purely on the principle of the development, based on the policies in the development plan. The response will not cover matters of detail or design.

15 to 20 working days

Option A

Detailed written advice only.  It comprises a desktop study only with no visit to the site.  Internal consultations will take place see 'what is included' below*.  The response will provide feedback on the principle of development, the detailed design and any technical considerations raised by internal consultees.

30 working days

Option B

Detailed written advice after a site visit. This is the same as detailed written advice but includes a visit to the site by the planning officer.  The site visit is only to inform the planning officers response, it is not a substitute for a meeting.

30 working days

Option C

Detailed written advice, with site visit and a follow up meeting. This is the same as Option B, but it includes a meeting to discuss the proposal.  This meeting will usually be following a written response, but may be before where agreed at the discretion of the case officer.

40 working days


* Options A, B and C include internal consultation apart from Highways and SUDS (Sustainable Drainage), where a separate process and fee is required. Further information should be sought from the respective department.

How to apply

Complete the Icon for pdf Pre Application Advice Application Form [15KB]  and submit it by email to You must also supply the appropriate fee (plus VAT) as set out in the Icon for pdf Pre-Application Advice Fees Document [22KB] .

When you send anything to us, please quote 'PREAPP' and the site address, and provide your contact details.

Plans, supporting documents and information to provide

There may be further supporting material required than mentioned here, and your Planning Case Officer may request this during pre-application advice discussions.

You are required to submit:

  • pre-application advice request form: complete and submit the printable form - this states the location and includes an accurate, detailed written description of your proposal
  • site location plan clearly identifying the site or building in question

You may also include these other types of supporting document:

  • block plan
  • elevation sketch plan
  • photographs


Ways to pay

To pay for our pre-app service you can:

Commercially sensitive applications

If your application is commercially sensitive, you may want to optionally include a completed Icon for doc Commercially Sensitive Material Checklist [42KB] . You will also need to consider the Icon for pdf Planning Pre-Application Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) and Freedom of Information (FOI) guidance [3KB] .

The pre-application guidance we give will be based on a planning case officer's professional judgement and is overseen by a senior officer. Giving our advice doesn't mean we've agreed to the proposal, or made a decision on it ahead of a planning application being made. Applications still need to go through the full process of assessment.


After you've applied

Once we receive your completed application form along with your payment, we'll check it and give it to a case officer to manage. Where possible the same officer will deal with any subsequent planning application.

We'll send you an acknowledgement, along with a unique reference number, within five working days.

Depending on which option you've selected, the Planning Case Officer will then:

  • carry out research, and identify any key issues likely to be raised by your proposal (if applicable)
  • consult with relevant West Berkshire Council specialists (if applicable)
  • arrange a Site Visit and/or meeting (if applicable)
  • advise you of any amendments or alterations that could be made to improve your proposals and overcome planning concerns
  • advise you on the possible outcome of a future planning application
  • advise you on the possible 'Heads of Terms' that may apply to any necessary legal agreement


We will send a written response to you within the timeframes stated above. Sometimes the process takes longer than this to allow for the return of consultation responses. We'll let you know if this is the case and agree a revised target date.

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