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Planning advice and enquiries

Check if you need planning permission for the work you want to do before you submit an application. Find out about our pre-application advice services.

Do I need permission?

If you're thinking of doing any improvement works to your property, garden or surroundings find out if you need planning permission at  Planning Portal: do you need permission?

Need advice?

If you need planning permission, or believe you do, we offer a high-quality pre-application service offering professional advice on the likely acceptability of development proposals, including whether planning permission is required or not.

If you wish to speak with a Planning Officer in person, contact us to make an appointment.

Apply for pre-application advice

Why choose our pre-application service?

Our pre-application service will help you find out if your proposal is likely to be acceptable without the expense of making a formal planning application.

If we feel we couldn't support a subsequent application, we will tell you why and outline any solutions or recommendations to overcome our concerns.

How to obtain pre-application advice

Pre-application enquiries should be submitted electronically at Apply for pre-application advice. Advice for most forms of development can be sought either in outline or in full.

Outline advice simply advises whether the proposal is acceptable in principle. The target for a response is 28 days.

Full advice provides detailed analysis of all the key planning issues. This will be provided after consultation with a range of consultees. In addition, we will also advise on validation requirements, Section 106 Obligations and, EIA Screening and Scoping Opinions. The target for a response is 42 days.

Strategic development projects

For strategic development projects, a bespoke pre-application service will be provided, with the scope and timescales agreed with the customer as appropriate to a particular project.

Householder service

This service advises if planning permission and/or building regulations approval is required and whether a proposal would be acceptable. The target for a response is 21 days.

Minerals and waste proposals

Due to the complexity of such proposals it is often not possible to assess all the likely planning and environmental issues within a relatively short period of time.  As such, separate timescales will be agreed on a case by case basis.

What happens following submission?

Upon receipt of your enquiry, it will be acknowledged and given a unique reference. The acknowledgement will inform you of the date by which you can expect to receive a response and the name and contact details of the case officer who will be dealing with your enquiry.

Pre-application fees

Strategic developments

Development typeOutline adviceFull Advice
Dwellings (100 or more / 3 hectares (ha) or more)£600£2,500
Office or industrial development  (more than 10,000 square metres (sqm) or more than 2 ha)£600£2,500
Retail development (more than 2,500 sqm)£600£2,500
All other strategic developments (more than 10,000 sqm or more than 2 ha)£600£2,500
Minerals and waste (where the site area exceeds 15 ha or in relation to waste proposals where annual throughput exceeds 50,000 tonnes)not applicable£2,500

Major developments

Development typeOutline adviceFull Advice
Dwellings (10-99 / 0.5 ha to 3 ha)£350£1,250
Offices or industrial development (1,000 sqm - 9,999 sqm or 1 ha to 2 ha)£350£1,250
Retail development (1,000 - 2,499 sqm)£350£1,250
All other major developments (1,000 sqm - 9,999 sqm or 1 ha - 2 ha)£350£1,250
Minerals and waste (site area between 1 ha and 15 ha, and all waste proposals where annual throughput would not exceed 50,000 tonnes)not applicable£1,250

Minor developments

Development typeOutline adviceFull Advice
Dwellings (1-9 / less than 0.5 ha)£100£200
Offices or industrial development (< 1000 or 1 ha)FreeFree
Retail development (less than 1,00 sqm)FreeFree
All other minor developments (< 1000 or 1 ha)£100£200

Other developments (full advice service only)

Development typeAdvice
Change of use£50
Householder developments£30
Advertisements displayed or directional to a business premises located in County DurhamFree
Other advertisements and hoardings£75
Listed building consents Free
Telecommunications and others£200
Wind turbine development£200 per turbine

Other advisory services

Development typeAdvice
General minor non-householder 'Do I Require Planning Permission?' letter£30
Letters to confirm officer view regarding compliance with conditions, or a Section 106 Agreement or lawfulness of activity£100

Design Review Service

As part of our pre-application advice service detailed above, and as part of the assessment of subsequent planning applications, major residential schemes are considered at our in-house Design Review Service to assess schemes against the Building for Life requirements of County Durham Plan Policy 29.

However, and in order to assist applicants further, we offer an Enhanced Design Review Service which, in addition to written feedback, also provides applicants with a visual urban design-based guidance note setting out how specific aspects of the development could be improved and how elements of a scheme can be amended in order to achieve acceptable (amber or green) Building for Life scores. A follow-up workshop session is also offered to allow for a discussion and resolution of the issues identified in the guidance note.  The service is only available where there is an existing pre-application enquiry or live planning application.

The fees for this service are as follows:

  • Major developments (10-99 dwellings) - £400 per scheme
  • Strategic developments (100+ dwellings) - £800 per scheme

For further information please contact the planning case officer dealing with your application or pre-application enquiry.


Contact us
03000 262 830
Our address is:
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL