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Major development advice

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We provide a pre-application advice service for major development proposals, which allows developers to discuss proposed developments prior to an application being submitted. 

By discussing the proposal with us before you submit an application, will allow the Council to offer you advice which will help you to put forward a successful application and avoid delays during the application process. 

The benefit of pre-application advice is that it will allow the relevant planning policies and other material considerations associated with your proposal to be identified at an early stage and allow the opportunity to develop or modify the proposal prior to submission of your application. This will help to streamline the determination of major and complex development proposals during the application stage.

How to request major development advice

1. Complete the following form to give details of the development:

pre-application advice for major applications form

2. Once you have submitted the pre-application advice form, you have 24 hours to complete the following payment form to make the required payment:

Major advice fee payment form

Please note that Lancashire County Council (LCC) provides its own pre-application advice service as the Highways Authority and Lead Local Flood Authority. 

For pre-application advice on highways and drainage matters visit:

Who is involved in major development advice?

In addition to a lead planning officer, the meeting may include officers from the following sections of the council:

  • Planning Policy
  • Urban Design
  • Affordable Housing
  • Waste Management
  • Parks and Street Scene

How does it work?

We will bring together the main parties at the earliest stage in the process. This will allow the most important issues to be highlighted and quickly resolved.

The following process will be followed:

  • You submit a request for pre-application advice, along with the necessary supporting information and applicable fee.
  • Details of the information required are provided on our request for pre-application advice form. 
  • If the necessary information has not been submitted with your request, we will contact you as soon as possible to advise you of the requirements.
  • We will appoint a lead officer who will be the main point of contact for any enquiries.
  • We will advise you of the date and time of the meeting at least two weeks in advance.
  • The meeting will be held on the forthcoming dates below and will be held at Preston Town Hall, Lancaster Road. You and your representative will be invited to attend the meeting.
  • Should you not be able to attend the meeting in person, we will be able to arrange a virtual meeting via MS Teams
  • If you do not wish to attend a meeting, the Planning Department can provide solely a written response.
  • We will provide a response within 10 working days of the date of the meeting (unless new information arises at the meeting or further research is required which necessitates the agreement of an alternative time scale).

How much will it cost?    

From 1 April 2023, the following Major Development advice service charges will come into effect:

  • Initial meeting for significant major development proposals - £2,000
  • Initial meeting for major development proposals - £1,500
  • Follow-up meeting for significant major development proposals - £700
  • Follow-up meeting for major development proposals - £500

Major development proposals

For the purposes of the charging scheme, the definitions are as follows:

  • Residential/student accommodation schemes of between 10 and 49 units or, where the number of dwellings is not specified, a site area of between 0.5 and 2.499 hectares;
  • Retail, commercial and industrial schemes with a floor space of between 1000sqm and 1999sqm, or on sites of between 1 hectare and 1.999 hectares;
  • Educational, hospital, leisure and recreation schemes on sites of between 1 hectare and 1.999 hectares;
  • Schemes with 2 or more land uses on sites of between 1 hectare and 1.499 hectares;
  • Changes of use of building(s) with a gross floor area of between 1,000 square metres and 1,499 square metres.

Significant major development proposals

For the purposes of the charging scheme, the definitions are as follows:

  • Residential/student accommodation schemes of over 50 units;
  • Retail, commercial and industrial schemes with a floors pace of 2000 square metres or more on sites of 2 hectares or more;
  • Educational, hospital, leisure and recreational schemes on sites of 2 hectares or more;
  • Schemes with 2 or more land uses on sites of 1.5 hectares or more;
  • Changes of use of building(s) with a gross floor area of 1,500 square metres or more;
  • Any schemes requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Discounted rates for the provision of pre-application advice for major and significant major schemes may be available for those development proposals where five or more meetings are required and where the fee will be paid up front.

In addition, reduced charges will be agreed (or in some circumstances, no charges will be made) for those development proposals submitted by charitable organisations or those which are the subject of public funding.

Please contact the planningdept@preston.gov.uk or telephone 01772 906912 for further information if you feel that any of the above exceptions would apply to your proposals.

Biodiversity Net Gain

Biodiversity net gain (BNG) is an approach to development, and/or land management, that aims to leave the natural environment in a measurably better state than it was beforehand.

As of 12 February 2024, all major planning applications are required to demonstrate a mandatory BNG of 10%. Major development is defined in article 2(1) of Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015) and includes all development proposals referred to above.

The following types of development are exempt from BNG:

  • Householder development as defined within Article 2(1) of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.
  • Development granted planning permission by a development order under section 59. This includes permitted development rights.
  • Development subject to the de minimis exemption. Development that does not impact a priority habitat and impacts less than 25 square metres (e.g. 5m by 5m) of onsite habitat, or 5 metres of linear habitats such as hedgerows.
  • Self-build and custom build development. Development which consists of no more than 9 dwellings, and is carried out on a site which has an area no larger than 0.5 hectares, and consists exclusively of dwellings which are self-build or custom housebuilding as defined in section 1(A1) of the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015.
  • Urgent Crown development granted permission under section 293A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
  • Development of a biodiversity gain site. Development which is undertaken solely or mainly for the purpose of fulfilling, in whole or in part, the biodiversity gain condition which applies in relation to another development.
  • Development related to the high-speed railway transport network.

On-site biodiversity net gain must be prioritised in all qualifying developments aiming to achieve the mandatory 10% target. Off-site biodiversity net gain will only be considered, when the required biodiversity net gain cannot be delivered within the development site and the off-site provision will make a positive contribution in enhancing and connecting the habitats to the wider ecological network.

The off-site provision must be delivered within the relevant local authority boundary, or if not possible, allocated within the adjacent Central Lancashire authority boundaries, where appropriate. If developers cannot achieve on-site or off-site biodiversity net gain, they must buy statutory biodiversity credits. However, this is a last resort option. Applicants are therefore encouraged to consider BNG at pre-application stage to ensure it is appropriately factored into development proposals prior to any formal submission.

The government has produced guidance on biodiversity net gain, to assist those involved in delivering BNG as landowners, applicants, local planning authorities and developers.

This guidance may be updated by the government as and when necessary.

Standing Design advice / Design guide summary

The design advice/summary including Annex A (PDF) [260KB] (selected design policy and guidance) and Annex B - Building for life 12 templates (PDF) [127KB] (national standard for residence schemes) are a summary of the process and outputs required by the Adopted Central Lancashire Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document (Design SPD).

The Design SPD and other selected references should be consulted for fuller information and relevant examples.

What happens next?

Following the receipt of advice and if necessary, you will be able to amend your proposal.

If a major amendment is required, we will probably have to repeat the above process when you send us your revised proposal.

We will also give you a list of all relevant consultees and an indication of which of them you may need to talk to separately in relation to specific issues.

How do I benefit from the major development advice approach?

The approach will ensure that you receive:

  • Clear guidance from the Council on its policies on planned development;
  • A unified and consistent approach;
  • Assistance in resolving potential problems or conflicts;
  • A co-ordinated and integrated service from the council and other agencies that will be time efficient and cost-effective;
  • List of planning application validation requirements
  • In the event that your proposal may unfortunately be contrary to planning policies and considered to be unacceptable, the early engagement with the Council can avoid unnecessary wasted expense through the preparation and submission of an application and associated reports and plans.

What if my proposals are confidential?

The pre-application major development service respects confidentiality and will not release any details, either internally or externally, unless it is necessary to do so in order to assist you. 

If this is the case, information will only be released with your agreement.

When are the meetings?

Meetings will usually be held on the last Wednesday of each month. Below is the list of meeting dates.

  • 24 January 2024
  • 21 February 2024
  • 20 March 2024
  • 17 April 2024
  • 29 May 2024
  • 26 June 2024
  • 31 July 2024
  • 28 August 2024
  • 25 September 2024
  • 30 October 2024
  • 27 November 2024
  • 18 December 2024

These dates may be subject to change, please contact the lead officer for confirmation of the next available meeting.

Please note that any advice given by Council officers at pre-application stage is not a formal planning decision by the council as Local Planning Authority and is not legally binding upon the Local Planning Authority.

We will give you the best advice possible based on the information provided.

This advice will be offered in good faith and to the best of our ability, without prejudice to any formal consideration of any planning application following statutory consultation, the issues raised and the evaluation of all available information.

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