The council can provide you with advice and information if you are considering a development proposal and welcomes discussions before you submit a planning application – whatever it is for. This is called the Pre-application Enquiry Service.

Pre-application engagement is promoted through Government guidance within the National Planning Policy Framework:

“Early engagement has significant potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system for all parties. Good quality pre-application discussion enables better coordination between public and private resources and improved outcomes for the community.”

The purpose of this guidance is to clearly identify how prospective applicants can obtain constructive pre-application advice to identify any key issues that should be addressed as early as possible.

We want to adopt a responsive, adaptable project management framework for handling preapplication enquiries, working collaboratively with you to provide timely, consistent and clear advice to improve the quality of the decision-making process.

This pre-application advice is referred to in Wirral as the Pre-application Enquiry Service. For any further information, please email: planningapplications@wirral.gov.uk.

We will ensure that (where possible) the case officer dealing with your pre-application enquiry will be the case officer on your planning application.

Why make a pre-application enquiry?

  • opportunities are identified for scheme improvements at a stage when a proposal can still be modified, resulting in higher quality developments
  • the likelihood of gaining planning permission is significantly increased
  • there is more opportunity to coordinate investment
  • the process helps to communicate the vision and objectives for the area
  • a shared understanding of constraints, opportunities and context is developed
  • information requirements are agreed and schemes which are unlikely to be supported are identified
  • timescales and administrative processes are established and explained
  • delays through early engagement of key parties are reduced

What range of skills can the council bring together?

The council can bring together the following professionalisms, as and where necessary:

  • Development Management
  • Planning Policy
  • Environmental Specialists (covering such issues as heritage and conservation, historic buildings, archaeology, trees)
  • Economic Development and Regeneration
  • Highways
  • Environmental Health and Protection
  • Building Control
  • Strategic Housing
  • Property Management
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Leisure and Recreation
  • Tourism

In addition to the above disciplines, the council may also seek to encourage the involvement of external agencies and bodies for particular proposals, as required, and depending on the nature of the proposals being considered.

What can you expect from the council?

The council has established a process and standards to optimise the benefits of the service you will receive:

  • the request will be registered within 3 days of receipt
  • acknowledgment will be issued
  • any additional information requested
  • notification of the contact details of the case officer
  • within 5 days of receipt the case officer will contact the customer to agree completion of the transactions of the service chosen from the menu of options
  • the target response for requests is 15 working days, unless otherwise agreed, and for large scale major development by agreement

In cases where large scale major development proposals can have significant strategic consequences for the community, future applicants may request an initial meeting with key senior council officers to discuss how conceptual schemes would align with the Local Plan, alongside potential funding and joint working on arrangements for key regeneration initiatives. There is no charge for this engagement.

What will be expected from you?

It is difficult for the council to give useful advice if applicants’ proposals are vague and speculative. Therefore, in order for the council to consider development proposals and provide a comprehensive response, all enquiries should be submitted on the Pre-application Enquiry form (available from the council or from our website) together with the following information:

I. A description of the proposed development and schedule of proposed uses
II. A site location plan (scale 1:1250)
III. Photographs and sketch drawings showing the site, buildings and trees as existing, together with the schedule of uses
IV. Outline of proposal (on plans scale 1:200)
V. A site/block plan (to scale)
VI. A description of the development. Details of any features or buildings within the site including trees or water courses
VII. The relevant pre-application fee

If further information is needed we will contact you and explain what is required and why it is needed.

When you submit your pre application please note that all of these applications, except initial scoping meetings, will normally be in the public domain.

If the Local Planning Authority receives a request, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) or Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), to disclose information relating to this pre-application enquiry they are obliged to do so unless the information is deemed exempt under the FOI or EIR Acts.

We can only withhold information under FOI or EIR if the information falls under one of the exemptions (FOI) or exceptions (EIR) set out in legislation for commercially sensitive information.

If we cannot agree with you on the sensitivity of the information you submit then you will be given the option not to proceed with the pre application. The council maintains compliance to the Data Protection Act and we will not release any personal information to third parties.

Is there a charge for this service?

In order for the service to meet costs, a charge will be levied for the service as per the schedule of fees appended to this protocol. Fees need to be paid upon submission of a pre-application enquiry. 

Disclaimer

A response to any pre-application enquiries will not facilitate the granting of planning permission for inappropriate planning proposals which are clearly contrary to planning policies. The council is required to take decisions on planning applications in accordance with the Development Plan and other material considerations such as national planning policies.

Any advice given by officers at pre-application stage is not a formal planning decision by the council as local planning authority. Officers will give you the best advice possible, based on the information submitted.

The provision of pre-application advice will be offered without prejudice and cannot be held to be binding on the Authority following the submission of a formal planning application, which will be subject to statutory consultation and may ultimately be decided by the council’s Planning Committee. However, pre-application advice should assist in helping prospective applicants ensure all the relevant and necessary information, including the correct fee, is provided at formal submission stage.

The key to the success of this service will be providing adequate information in advance in order to speed up and smooth the progress of a formal application.

For further information please contact the Development Management service: