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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

Free planning advice for domestic renewable energy projects

We provide a free pre-application planning advice service for domestic renewable energy, heat and retrofit projects. This is so we can support our residents’ transition to low and zero carbon technologies that heat, power and insulate their homes.  

This service is available to: 

  • Homeowners including owners of flats and houses
  • ‘Not for profit’ community energy organisations  

You can receive planning advice on renewable and retrofitting projects including solar panels, heat pumps, and external insulation. 

  • 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 any 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. Remember 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 charge
    • 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:

    • a Design and Access Statement
    • an Early Engagement Strategy. This document will ensure that developers engage with residents and local stakeholders from the start of the development process. The Strategy forms part of our Development Consultation Charter (DCC). Further information and an Early Engagement Strategy template are available on our Statement of Community Involvement webpage.

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

    • a Design and Access Statement
    • a Heritage Statement

    Other things you should do

    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 responding 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 charge applies for almost all pre-application enquiry types. View the charges 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 
    SE1P 5LX 

Page last updated: 23 April 2024


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