Planning permission

Pre-application advice and guidance


Under the Local Government Act 2003, Watford Borough Council operates a scheme of charging for pre-application advice on certain type of development proposals and certain development briefs.

The Council welcomes and encourages developers to seek pre-application advice for all types of application and particularly for major or complex schemes.  In order that a consistent and high quality pre-application advice service can be provided the Council has decided that the cost of the service should be recovered directly and not fall as a cost to the council taxpayer.

Pre-application discussions are primary of benefit to the applicant by identifying the planning issues and requirements in advance of making the application and by speeding up the development process. Pre-application advice can also help to improve the quality of applications and avoid unacceptable proposals.

Pre- application advice provides the following benefits:

  • an understanding of how planning polices will be applied to a particular development;
  • Identification of the need for specialist input at an early stage;
  • assistance with the preparation of proposals for formal submission, including the information required for making a valid planning application, thus enabling applications to be handled more quickly and with more certainty of a successful outcome;
  • an indication of the likely requirements for inclusion within a S.106 planning obligation, such as levels of affordable housing;
  • possible reduction in the time needed by professional advisors to work up proposals;
  • advice regarding the procedure, consultation , and estimated time scale with regard to the processing of an application; an indication of proposals that are acceptable, thus saving abortive costs of pursuing a formal application.


All requests for pre-application advice will be allocated a unique reference number and will be acknowledged. This acknowledgement will tell you when you can expect a response to your request and will advise you of the name and contact details of the planning case officer who will be handling your case.

We will respond in writing to all requests for pre-application advice and this response will normally be provided within 20 working days of the request being received. However, we will let you know if it is likely to be delayed and tell you why. We will also let you know if we require any additional information before pre-application advice can be offered.


The basic response to request for pre application advice will cover:

  • relevant research relating to the proposal;
  • identification of key issues likely to be raised by the proposal;
  • advice on the application of relevant planning polices;
  • advice on the information that would be required to support a formal application; advice on the likely outcome of any formal application

A written summary of the Council's pre-application advice will be provided. This advice will be based both on the information you supply and that already held by the Council. The case officer will not be able to visit the site, so it is very important that any plans and drawings that are submitted are accurate.

You should be aware that any advice given by the Council in relation to pre-application enquires will be based on the case officer's professional judgement and will not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council with regard to future planning applications. Any views or opinions expressed are given without prejudice to the consideration by the Council of any formal planning application, which will be the subject to wider consultation and publicity. Although the case may indicate the likely outcome of a formal application, no guarantees can or will be given about the decision that will be made on any such application.

How to apply

Download and complete the pre-application advice application form and charging schedule

Email your completed form together with any supporting information to

Please call 01923 226400 to make a credit or debit card payment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


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