Make a pre-application enquiry

In the planning system, the pre-application phase is where key issues are expected to be resolved, as far as possible. If a scheme is submitted which fails to meet our published planning policy requirements, and there have been no meaningful pre-application discussions, that could be regarded as an unreasonable approach. Such an application runs the risk of being refused without further negotiation.

Charges for pre-application advice

Pre-application advice is a chargable service which includes VAT. However, it could save you money in the longer term by avoiding issues and saving time. The fees are set out in the Schedule of Planning Application Enquiry Fees below.

Pay over the phone

You can call us to pay by credit or debit card, you can also call to arrange a BACs payment.

Call us on 0114 273 4218 or email 

Apply for pre-application advice

In order to manage the process, all enquiries should be submitted on the appropriate pre-application enquiry form together with the relevant fee and necessary supporting documents described in the form. 

In some cases developers will be aware that there is a key policy issue that may determine whether their development will comply with a local plan policy or not. Contact us to obtain policy advice (there is a charge for this). Policy documents and other information are available which may answer your queries.

Pre-application enquiries affecting heritage assets

There is no specific requirement to produce a Heritage Statement at pre-application stage. However, the National Planning Policy Framework requires such a statement for Full Applications. This is to demonstrate how the proposal has developed in response to an understanding of the heritage significance of the asset(s).

Officers aim to give the best advice at pre-application stage on significant or major developments affecting Heritage Assets. To ensure this, applicants should provide the relevant heritage assessments to a level that allows the rational for the proposal to be understood.

To find out if you are in a conservation area, view our Conservation area map.


Planning Performance Agreements

Strategic developments of city wide significance are best dealt with through a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA). This is an agreement between you and the local planning authority which provides a project management framework for handing a major application. PPAs are usually agreed at the pre-application stage and relate to the whole development process, up to and including the discharge of conditions. The key benefits of a PPA include a bespoke timetable, with a structure of deadlines and action points, and greater collaborative working between key stakeholders.

This service has a different charging structure to our pre-application enquiry service. Fees will be calculated on an individual basis, depending on the scale and complexity of the proposal.

If you are interested in entering into a Planning Performance Agreement, please email details of your proposal to


Digital models for major applications

We use the VU.CITY digital 3D platform as a key part of our planning process for assessing the design of proposals for new buildings and large extensions. This allows us to place digital models of new developments within a wider city model, and is integral to delivering good growth and a high quality of design in development across the city. 

Digital 3D modelling will be required for major developments and any application that is considered to have a significant impact on the townscape.

Requirements for 3D model submission should be discussed with officers during pre-application discussion.


How to share a model with us

There are a number of ways you can share a model with us:

  • sharing a link through VU.CITY
  • sending a file to us directly

Sharing a link through VU.CITY

You may wish to consider taking out a licence with VU.CITY as part of the design and pre-application process to test your own schemes in the 3D context.

If you do not wish to take out a licence, applicants can be granted temporary access via VU.CITY to import, view and share a model link with us.

Models can be shared with the Planning Officer and Project Team through the VU.CITY Cloud Platform.

Sending a file to us directly

If you are unable to access VU.CITY directly, you can send us a simple massing model created in other compatible programs. Planning and Design Officers will be able to import the massing model into VU.CITY to assess its impact on the local context.

Model requirements

The model should meet the following criteria:

  • be geolocated in OS space in metres (m) units
  • have a low polycount (recommended less than 65,000 vertices) 
  • be below 128MB
  • be saved or exported in .FBX file format 
  • named with your application reference number and any revisions clearly labelled
  • submitted to the relevant Case Officer, together with the 3D Model Submission Form

Further support

For more detailed guidance on importing a model, please see the VU.CITY website.

You can also find a coverage map of area modelled within the Council's boundary.

If you have any issues regarding import or using the model, please call the VU.CITY technical support team on 0808 168 3931 or email

Contact Planning Enquiries

0114 203 9183
Monday to Friday
9am to 4pm
Howden House
1 Union Street
S1 2SH

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