1. The pre-application stage
  2. About the pre-application service for applicants
  3. Advice for local authorities at the pre-application stage
  4. More detailed advice

The pre-application stage

Before an applicant sends their application for a proposed development to the Planning Inspectorate, they must carry out public consultation. This feedback will then be taken into account and used to help shape the proposed project. This happens at the pre-application stage.

The applicant must consult:

  • the general public
  • parish councils
  • statutory consultees
  • local authorities and councils
  • land owners and tenants

They must consider all comments and information from members of the public and organisations.

Getting involved in the applicant's consultation during the pre-application stage is very important. This is your opportunity to put forward any questions and concerns, learn more about the development and how it might effect the area.

Check the guide on how you can have your say.

About the pre-application service for applicants

We offer a pre-application service for applicants who are preparing an application. This is a free service.

This includes:

  • providing advice about how to prepare an application
  • pre-submission checks and reviews of draft documents
  • checking applicants have followed all the required steps

Advice for local authorities at the pre-application stage

You can view our advice notes with information about what you need to do if you represent a local authority.

More detailed advice

If you need more detailed advice, you can check our advice notes for more information.

Read the full set of detailed advice notes

  1. Step 1 Pre-application

    This is where the applicant starts to create their application. The applicant is required to consult with people and organisations in the area. They must also create detailed documents about the impact the project could have on the environment.

    It is important to get involved at this stage to influence the application before the applicant sends it to the Planning Inspectorate.

    1. Find out what you can do at this stage and check our detailed guides.
  2. Step 2 Acceptance

    This is when the applicant sends us their application documents. We check if we can accept the application for examination. We have 28 days to make this decision.

    1. How the acceptance stage works and what happens next.
  3. Step 3 Pre-examination

    The Examining Authority is appointed and is made up of one or more inspectors. Anyone who wants to have their say needs to register at this stage.

    The applicant must publish that the application has been accepted by us. They include when and how parties can register to get involved. The time period for registering is set by the applicant but must be no less than 28 days.

    The pre-examination stage usually takes about 3 months.

    1. What happens during the pre-examination stage.
  4. Step 4 Examination

    The Examining Authority will ask questions about the proposed development. The applicant and anyone who has registered to have their say can get involved and submit comments at each deadline in the timetable. You can also attend hearings that may take place. This stage takes up to 6 months.

    1. What happens at the examination stage?
  5. Step 5 Recommendation

    The Examining Authority writes its recommendation report. This must be completed and sent to the relevant Secretary of State within 3 months of the end of examination stage.

    1. Making a recommendation.
  6. Step 6 Decision

    The decision stage is when the relevant Secretary of State then reviews the report and makes the final decision. They have 3 months to make a decision.

    1. Who makes the final decision.
  7. Step 7 What happens after the decision is made

    Once the Secretary of State has made a decision, there is a 6 week period where people can challenge the decision in the high court. This is called a judicial review.

    1. What you can do after the decision has been made.