Why seek pre-planning application advice from Environmental Health?

It can be helpful to seek our advice about your planning proposals regarding environmental issues, before submitting your actual application to the Planning Authority.

The benefits can be:

  • To help identify and overcome potential difficulties thus saving time
  • A reduction in the number of environmental conditions applied to any permissions

This might involve meeting with us or just sending us your proposals or submitting a technical report for us to review and make comment.

You may find it helpful to get advice from an independent planning specialist or experts in the field when drawing up your scheme. Consultants who regularly prepare planning applications, or supporting technical information, have the experience and expertise that can help make sure your scheme has the best chance of being granted consent. Spending time and effort in preparing your scheme is more likely to result in an environmentally sound and acceptable development and help Somerset Council process your application quickly.

How the pre-application advice charging scheme works


We will decide which officers from the Environmental Protection Team, need to deal with your enquiries or meet with you. Meetings (if requested) will usually be held at your local council office, unless there are good reasons to meet elsewhere.

Email: generalenquiries@somerset.gov.uk

Phone: 0300 123 2224

If a meeting is requested, you will need to send us any relevant information far enough in advance for us to be able to reach an initial view before we meet you and we will arrange the meeting as soon as possible after receipt, usually within 10 working days.

At the meeting we will give a view as to what information we would request be submitted, either at pre-application or application stage.

Review of documents/information

Documents can be submitted for review by an Environmental Protection Officer. A response will normally be provided within 10 working days or by agreement.

In assessing the content of a technical document, we will consider the following:

  • Aims/Objectives
  • Relevance
  • Scope
  • Reference standards/guidance
  • Methodology
  • Whether information is submitted in full (including calculations and plans)
  • Results
  • Critical appraisal of conclusions and recommendations
  • Advice on any weaknesses in the report
  • Recommendations on any further work required

The submission of such reports may satisfy the Environmental Protection Officer sufficiently that they recommend the Planning Authority approve a future application, with or without conditions. Alternatively, it may inform the Officer sufficiently for them to flag up issues with the developer prior to an application being submitted. For example, where a contaminated land report identifies potential ground gas generation, we may advise that monitoring over 3-6 months is undertaken. Knowledge of this sort of requirement, in advance of an application may be very useful.

Our advice

For written enquiries only, we aim to respond to you within 10 working days.

In cases where a meeting is held, we will provide a written summary of our advice usually within 10 working days of meeting with you.

Going forward

Our advice will be provided in good faith, but it will not be any guarantee that your application will result in a particular decision and will not be binding on Somerset Council in any way. It will only be applicable so long as there is no change in policy, legislation, or other circumstances relevant to the case. It will be valid on the date on which it is provided.

Our recommendation to the Planning Authority might have to change during the formal application process, once the views of neighbours and councillors have been obtained. The final decision may also be made by the Development Committee, rather than by Planning Officers, and it is always possible that the Committee Members may reach a different view.

Whether or not you decide to take pre-application advice doesn’t affect your right to submit a planning application, nor to appeal should consent be refused.

Fees and charges

As a result of the time and resources involved for giving pre-application advice, we do apply charges. To find out what charges apply to Planning application advice please visit our Fees and Charges page.

Where do I start?

To request this service, please complete the Environmental protection pre-planning application advice form you will also need to include the appropriate plans and documents with your application, as well as the address for invoicing.

Last reviewed: May 2, 2023 by Jenny

Next review due: November 2, 2023

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