Planning advice and guidance

Pre-application planning advice for agents/developers and members of the public

Please refer to the Planning Portal for general planning advice. You may also call our Duty Officer Service for advice on householder enquiries on Tuesdays between 9am and Midday on 01702 215004.

Policy documents including the Council’s Core Strategy, Development Management Document and Design and Townscape Guide.

Our service

For Agents and Developers we offer a formal Pre-Application Advice Service to enable you to discuss your development proposals with us before formally submitting a Planning application.

Our Development Control Team offers the following:

  • written advice only
  • a meeting plus written advice
  • a follow up meeting plus written advice

Virtual meetings are arranged during normal office hours (8:45am to 5:00pm) and are hosted on Microsoft Teams. Meetings at the Civic Centre will only be available if deemed necessary by officers.

The pre-application meeting aims to:

  • establish a clear understanding of the proposed development
  • give consideration to areas of improvement
  • advise which local/national policy(ies) will apply to your proposal
  • confirm what type of permission is required
  • identify specific information that must be submitted with an application form
  • minimise any unnecessary delays allowing your application to be dealt with as quickly as possible
  • ensure a higher quality of development is delivered throughout the borough

Meetings are for 1 hour to discuss a single proposal. Officers will not discuss further proposals unless they too have been formally submitted.

The advice and guidance received at this stage is given in good faith and will not guarantee or supply a definitive undertaking as to whether your proposal is likely to be approved.

To proceed

To apply for pre-application advice please complete our online form.

Please note that a fee is required to be submitted with this form. Supporting information is also required prior to any advice being given in writing or a meeting being arranged.

We aim to provide our advice in writing within:

  • 10 working days following a meeting
  • 20 working days for written advice requests only

When the response requires additional advice from other Council services and on occasion preliminary views from Planning Committee Members this may cause a delay. If this occurs we will keep you informed.


We make a charge for this service. Please see the Council Fees and Charges document.

The fee is non-refundable and can be paid by:

  • cheque made payable to Southend Borough Council
  • by Credit or Debit card over the phone

At our discretion we may not normally charge a fee for the first meeting with voluntary, charitable, or non-profit organisations and parish council in respect of development enquiries.

Additional fees may be charged when advice from specialist consultants is required. Where this is the case, we will be contact you before proceeding.

Definitions relating to charges

Large scale major development

  • all development over 100 residential units or on sites greater than 2 hectares in area
  • all other uses where new floorspace proposed will be over 5000 m2 or on sites greater than 2 hectares in area

Small scale major development

  • all residential development between 10 to 99 dwelling, or a site area of 0.5 hectares but less than 2 hectares
  • all other uses where new floor space proposed is over 1000sqm but less than 5000 m2 or on sites greater than 1 hectare but less than 2 hectares in area

Minor development

  • all residential development of 1 to 9 proposed new dwellings
  • all other uses where change of use or new floor space is proposed up to 999 m2 or on sites less than 1 hectare

Extensions/alterations to dwellings

  • all applications to enlarge improve or alter an existing dwelling including boundary walls/fences or to carry out operations in the curtilage that are ancillary to the dwelling use.

Any advice provided by the Council in relation to pre-application enquiries will be based on the case officer’s professional judgement.

Their opinion will be given in good faith and will not constitute a formal response or decision of the Council.

Neither will it guarantee or supply a definitive undertaking as to whether the proposal is likely to be approved or refused.

Any future planning applications received based on pre-application advice will be subject to wider consultation and publicity.

Decisions are only made after consultations with adjoining occupiers, statutory bodies and other interested parties and a detailed assessment of the facts of the case.

The final decision on planning applications is made either by Council Members via the Planning Committee, or by using delegated powers.

Where pre-application advice is not followed, subsequent planning applications are likely to be determined without further negotiations.

Once the Council has registered and commenced work on the enquiry there shall be no refund of the fee.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires us to make all documents available to members of the public, if requested under this act. Information provided on a Request for Pre-Application Advice form and supporting documents may be published on the Authority’s website. Pre-application advice can only be treated as confidential if there are clear issues of commercial sensitivity or other significant reasons why this information may not be made public and these have been stated on the form. If a planning application is made as a result of the pre-application advice, ALL documentation may be publicly available, including background papers to the application.

Contact Planning and Building

Telephone: 01702 215004

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