Planning advice services

Pre-application advice service

We recommend using our pre-application advice service so that you can:

  • discuss your planned works with a planning officer before you make a planning application
  • get expert advice on what you can develop
  • spend less time and money preparing your planning application
  • reduce your risk of being refused planning permission by fixing any issues early on in the design process
  • avoid having to make changes to your planning application after you've submitted it

If you are a homeowner and want advice about installing renewable energy sources to your home (for example, solar panels or a heat pump) then we can provide this free of charge. 

How does the service work?

What we will do

Your pre-application enquiry will be assigned to a planning officer, who will be your case officer. They will be your main contact throughout the process. 

Your case officer will:

  • identify national, regional and local policies that are relevant to your planned project
  • advise on design
  • coordinate any specialist advice required from other planning officers
  • arrange meetings to an agreed timetable, including presentations to the Design Review Panel
  • keep to agreed timescales and deadlines for providing written responses

For larger proposals, your case officer will also:

  • help draft and agree heads of terms for a Section 106 agreement before you submit a planning application
  • help organise local community and councillor engagement with your proposal

Written responses

Your case officer will assess your planned project in the same way they would assess a planning application.   

Your case officer will prepare a letter or report that will be as detailed as possible based on the information you provide. It will also cover matters raised during any meetings or site visits.

Your case officer's letter or report will then be checked by their team leader and manager before we send it to you.

If you choose to then submit an application for planning permission, your pre-application letter or report will be used to inform the assessment of your application. You will be expected to follow the guidance provided to you in the pre-application letter or report. Be aware that your planning application will be subject to public consultation. If the scheme is complex, then the decision might be made by the council's planning committee.  

Any views or opinions are given in good faith and without prejudice to the formal consideration of any future planning application formally submitted after the pre-application stage.  

What do you need to submit?

What you should include in your application

You should first check the application type needed for your planned development

You should also read how to prepare a valid planning application for useful guidance.

For all pre-application enquiries, you'll need to:

  • pay the correct fee
  • submit a completed pre-application form which includes a development description
  • submit a location plan
  • submit a site plan

Download the pre-application form (pdf, 322kb).

For most pre-application enquiries, you'll also need to submit:

  • existing and proposed plans, sections and elevations
  • photographs of the site
  • any other drawings or supporting documents relevant to the development type

If you do not plan to carry out physical changes to the property or site, then you do not need to submit any plans, sections or elevations. You must provide details about what changes you want to make in your application form.

For major and outline applications, you will also need to submit:

For Listed Building applications, you will also need to submit:

  • a Design and Access Statement
  • a Heritage Statement

Other things you should do

In order to get the best possible advice from us, you should make sure you:

  • identify a single point of contact within your team (usually the applicant, a planning consultant or an architect)
  • keep to agreed timescales and deadlines for providing responses to us

For larger proposals, you should also:

  • arrange public engagement at an early stage of scheme development, using specialist consultants where necessary
  • agree a schedule of meetings
  • make sure all the information we need is prepared ahead of the meetings; this includes presentations to the council’s Design Review Panel
  • provide high-quality illustrations suitable for presentation to a wide range of audiences
  • provide draft notes of meetings that will be agreed by both parties

Acceptable document formats

We accept the following file formats:

  • Adobe PDF .pdf
  • Microsoft Office .doc/.docx
  • images .jpeg/.jpg

File size

If your file exceeds 15MB, you must split your file into smaller file sizes and number each part of the document in the correct order before you submit it to us.

How long does the process take?

Householders and minor applications  

The pre-application process for householders and other minor applications is usually completed within six weeks.  

Major, strategic and outline applications  

The pre-application process for major, strategic and outline applications can take up to 13 weeks or longer. This might be arranged through a formal planning performance agreement with the applicant.

How to apply and pay

When you've prepared your pre-application documents, you can choose how to submit your application to us.

A fee applies for almost all pre-application enquiry types. View the fees list to check how much you'll need to pay when you make your application.

Apply online

Once we receive your application, we will send you a confirmation email which will include a link that you can use to pay online. Note that we do not take payments by phone. Payment can be made by debit or credit card, and we don't accept Amex.

We recommend that you apply by email. Remember to attach the required documents to your email.

Download the pre-application form (pdf, 322kb)

Email us your application.

Apply by post

You can send your pre-application documents to our office address. 

Please send a signed cheque for the correct amount at the same time that you submit your application.

5th Floor Hub 2 
Southwark Council 
PO Box 64529 
London 
SE1P 5LX 

Page last updated: 22 November 2022

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