Pre-application advice and fees

Last Updated: 29 March 2022

Suspension of pre-application advice service

Like many other local authorities, we are currently experiencing an unprecedented workload and the demands of delivering Local Government Reorganisation in Cumbria.

To ensure that we can efficiently deliver and reduce the impact on the our statutory planning functions, a decision has been taken to temporarily suspend our discretionary pre-application advice service.

This does not apply to all pre-applications, but it does apply to requests for advice on Household (Category E) and other minor applications (Category D). This temporary suspension will be periodically reviewed and when capacity allows, it is anticipated the service will be re-introduced.

Any applications for advice received after Wednesday 1st December 2021 or classed as invalid on that date, will be returned. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. The suspension of this service is temporary and will be resumed as soon as resources allow.

Pre-application advice and fees

This is a paid for service. If you need planning permission a pre-application discussion will help us understand the project and any potential problems.

It also offers a chance to consider wider consultation, where appropriate, with the public and other groups which can lead to a better outcome for everyone.

Benefits of pre-application discussions:

  • identify opportunities for improvement at a stage when a proposal can still be modified, resulting in better quality developments
  • significantly increase the likelihood of getting planning permission
  • allow more opportunity to coordinate investment
  • help to communicate the vision and objectives for South Lakeland
  • develop a shared understanding of constraints and opportunities
  • agree information requirements and identify proposals that are unlikely to be supported
  • establish timescales and explain the planning processes
  • reduce delays further down the line

You are strongly advised to use this service. Applications submitted without any pre application discussions are likely to be refused where significant amendments are required.

A request for pre-application advice can be made on the application form below.

Please read the guidance and fees note below. This will help you to provide as much relevant information as possible to ensure we can give appropriate advice. 

Make a request for pre-application advice (PDF 135KB / 2 pages)

Guidance and fees for pre-application advice on new developments

Category A large scale major development

  • 50 dwellings or more
  • non-residential schemes over 2000m² floor space or 2 hectares in site area
  • change of use of buildings over 2000m² floor space or 2 hectares
  • more than 10 wind turbines
  • any scheme requiring Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Category A fee

£1,224.40 (including VAT) for two site visits and two meetings. Additional £61.20 (including VAT) for each and every meeting thereafter.

Category B small scale major development

  • residential development of between 10 and 49 dwellings (inclusive) or where the site area is between 0.5 hectares and 2 hectares
  • new floor space or change of use of between 1,000 and 2,499 square metres or where the site area is more than 1 hectare and less than 2 hectares

Category B fee

£612 (including VAT) for one site visit, meeting and letter. Additional £61.20 (including VAT) if a further meeting is requested, and each and every letter and meeting thereafter.

Category C intermediate development

  • 3 to 9 dwellings
  • non-residential schemes with 500 to 999m² floor space or 0.5 to 0.99ha
  • change of use of buildings 500 to 999m² floor space or 0.5 to 0.99ha
  • single wind turbine/telecomm mast exceeding 17m high

Category C fee

£244.80 (including VAT) for one site visit and one letter. Additional £61.20 (including VAT) if a further meeting is requested, and each and every letter and meeting thereafter.

Category F heritage asset advice

  • Heritage Asset only pre-application advice (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas not involving planning Permission)

Category F fee

Heritage advice (not involving planning permission): £60 (including VAT) for a letter. Additional £60 (including VAT) if a site visit or meeting are required.

A reduced fee of 50% applies to requests submitted on behalf of community groups or local councils.

Terms and conditions

  • VAT is chargeable at the standard rate of 20% and will be charged at the rate in place at the time of the request
  • the fee must be paid at the time the request is made
  • cheques should be made payable to South Lakeland District Council
  • credit/debit card payments can be made by calling the phone number listed at the bottom of this page or at reception at South Lakeland House

The service you will receive and the information you will need to provide

  • anyone wanting pre-application advice is required to complete a ‘Request for Pre-application Advice’ form. This form sets out the information that is required in order for the request to be valid
  • we will contact you by phone or in writing within 1 week of receiving a request for pre-application advice. We will confirm:
    - that the fee, if submitted with the form, is correct or if a fee has not been submitted with the form, what the fee is
    - any additional information that is required before pre-application advice is offered
    - the name of the planning case officer who will be providing the advice and their contact details
  • where a fee has been submitted for advice without all other necessary information and the additional information is not received within 28 days of the original submission, the fee will be returned but £25 will be deducted for administration costs
  • the case officer will contact you to confirm the timescales for issuing their advice. If necessary, a meeting can be arranged to discuss the proposal prior to the case officer providing advice. The target date for responding to a valid request will be 6 weeks, although this cannot always be guaranteed, especially for more complex schemes
  • where specialist advice is requested at a meeting, the necessary officers will attend subject to availability
  • the case officer will:
    - research the history of the site
    - undertake an unaccompanied site visit
    - consult with key statutory and non-statutory consultees where appropriate
    - identify and assess the prospective application against council policies and standards
    - arrange to attend a meeting with you where appropriate
    - provide a detailed written response in the context of the plans provided and any meeting discussions which will include a list of supporting documents that would need to be submitted with any application. These might include a list of possible conditions that could be attached to the proposal if submitted; a list of key statutory and non-statutory consultees that would be asked about the planning application

Planning performance agreements

Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) are a collaborative project management process primarily aimed at complex development proposals. A fundamental principal of them is the front-loading of activity, prior to submission, to ensure that applications are of a high quality both in terms of the material submitted and the content of the proposal. There are a number of core components recommended by Communities and Local Government when producing a PPA:

  • project vision and development objectives of the planning proposal
  • project issues and tasks plan
  • project team and decision making framework
  • project programme.

One of the key advantages for developers to using PPAs is greater certainty of the timescales for the decision making process and significantly reduced likelihood of unexpected issues being raised late in the development management process. When pre-application advice is sought a key area for discussion will be whether the use of a PPA is appropriate. PPAs are likely to be required for more complex proposals including:

  • proposals requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment
  • larger sites that include a variety of land uses
  • proposals that have an impact on strategic areas of environmental sensitivity
  • proposals involving significant non-standard planning obligations
  • proposals which require referral to a central or regional government body
  • proposals which would require expansive consultations or involvement from many different stakeholders.


  • any views or opinions expressed are in good faith, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application, which will be subject to public consultation and ultimately decided by the council
  • alterations to local, regional and national policies might affect the advice given
  • care should be taken with any pre-application advice for developments that are not submitted within one year of the council’s advice letter

Processing of subsequent planning applications

The planning service will try and process applications within the nationally set timescales of 8, 13 or 16 weeks depending on the type of application. However, applications submitted following pre-application advice may take less time to determine.

Applications that have been submitted in the absence of any pre-application discussions are likely to be refused without further negotiation where significant amendments are required to make the development acceptable.