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What is a pre-application and do you need it for planning?

A guide to what a pre-application is and how it can benefit your extension / conversion/ or new build project.

4 min read

When it comes to those big projects, you want to leave nothing to chance, especially when it comes to planning. This is where a pre-application (or ‘pre-app’) can come in handy.

If you’re looking to design something a little ‘out of the box’, a pre-application is an informal way for you to explore your options and establish a relationship with your local planning authority.

To learn more, we asked our New Build’s team to give us the low-down…

What is a pre-application?

A pre-application involves having an informal meeting with your planning officer, either in person, on the phone, or by email. It’s a chance to discuss the feasibility of your ideas, alongside any problems you might be faced with.

Common issues worth discussing are surrounding…

  • Roads
  • Footpaths
  • Power cables
  • Watercourses
  • Sewers
  • Telephone lines

You or your architect might also enquire about problems such as overshadowing your neighbours or traffic noise. In these cases, rather than reject your ideas, your planning officer might impose certain conditions for your designer to meet during the official planning process.

Learn more about planning refusual.

During these talks, you can choose to present basic ideas or even ready-to-go architectural drawings, depending on the speed you want to move at and how much risk you’re looking to avoid.

Benefits of submitting a pre-application

There are a number of benefits to going with a pre-application, especially when it comes to bigger projects.

  • A pre-application allows you to explore creative or bold ideas without the risk of official (and costly) rejection or the 8 week waiting period.

  • For those eyeing up plots for sale or properties to renovate, this is a great way of mapping out potential designs prior to purchasing.

  • As they can be done using only basic sketches, you can save yourself money down the line by avoiding your architect from drawing up the wrong designs, and spare yourself the cost of the revisions.

  • If you choose to be bold and offer up a nearly complete planning package (more on this below), you can move straight into making an official application.

Projects best suited to a pre-application

While pre-applications are great for some projects, for smaller extensions or conversions, they might not be suitable - especially if your ideas are conservative.

As with most things, it’s best to talk to an expert about what route is right for your home, however, we do tend to recommend these projects opt for a pre-application…

  • New Builds: if you’re building any home from scratch, be it from the ground-up or by converting an existing structure.

  • Conservation areas: if you want to extend or convert a property in a planning-restricted area.

  • Bold design: if you’re looking to build on a grand scale or you’re looking to explore a style that’s not in keeping with the homes around you.

  • House hunters: if you want to know what the potential of a property or site before you make a purchase.

How Resi can help

No matter what project you’re undertaking, if yours falls in any of the categories above, our team can help you put together the best pre-application.

We offer two ways of going about this…


We’ll work with you to submit a basic outline of your design intentions without going into any architectural detail. If the planners like it, we’ll then use this outline as the basis for our planning package, and bring those ideas to life with architectural drawings. Otherwise, if hit with rejection, we can resubmit another proposal.

Pros: Allows you to get an idea of what’s possible without covering the costs of early architectural work. Costs will be low and reapplications cost-effective too.


Our designers will design and develop a full detailed scheme, which will include all the architectural work needed for full planning permission. This will give you the most accurate verdict from your planning authority, as we meet each planning requirement and reference planning precedent in your area. If approved, can then be reused for your full application, cutting down your timings and costs.

Pros: By doing the initial work at the start, you can head straight into your full planning application, saving you both time and money at the next stage. However, you will have to spend more upfront for these drawings to be produced and potentially amended.

To learn more about how Resi can help your home, book yourself a free consultation here.

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