Planning pre-application advice

Obtaining pre-application advice can help to improve the quality of planning applications and their likelihood of success. This can be achieved by:

  • providing an understanding of the relevant planning policies and other material considerations associated with a proposed development
  • working collaboratively and openly with the council and interested parties at an early stage to identify and seek to resolve issues associated with a proposed development
  • discussing the possible mitigation of the impact of a proposed development, including any planning conditions
  • identifying the information required to accompany a formal planning application, thus reducing the likelihood of delays at the validation stage
  • putting in place a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) where this would help with managing the process and agreeing any dedicated  resources for progressing the application.

Tower Hamlets offers a pre-application planning advice service. Our Pre-application advice guide explains how to use the service, what we offer and what you can expect.

If you would like to request pre-application advice please complete the pre-application form and send to planning@towerhamlets.gov.uk.

Duty planning officer service

In addition to the pre-application advice service, we offer a duty planner service for general planning enquiries and to help with interpretation of plans submitted with an application that might affect you.

The duty planner service is available by e-mailing your enquiry to planning@towerhamlets.gov.uk or by phoning 020 7364 5009.

Our customer service team are available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Fridays to help you over the phone. A duty planning officer will be available from 9am to 1pm.

The drop in service at Mulberry Place has been suspended for the time being pending government advice on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Planning performance agreements

The government encourages the use of planning performance agreements (PPAs) anyone seeking planning permission for larger scale or complex planning proposals.

PPA’s are voluntary agreements between local planning authorities (councils) and an applicant or someone seeking pre-application advice. They allow for a bespoke service to be agreed and provide a project management framework so that unnecessary delay and uncertainty can be avoided.

We encourage the use of PPA’s because they help to:

  • bring together the developer, the local planning authority (council) and key stakeholders to work collaboratively throughout the planning process
  • ensure complex proposals progress through the process from pre-application stage to application submission and decision to mutually-agreed timescales, without being constrained by the 13 or 16 week statutory timeframe
  • identify key contacts for easier communication between the developer and the council
  • ensure appropriate resources and expertise are provided to advise on complex proposals;
  • provide greater opportunity for dialogue through the planning process (pre-application stage, planning application stage and the post decision stages) and help deliver high-quality development.

You can ask for advice on whether your proposal may be suitable for a PPA at pre-application stage, or upon initial contact from the planning officer.

PPA administration fees

Further to previous consultation and feedback, a new Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) administration fee with effect from 11 May 2020. 

The administration fee will be used to manage the appointment of external technical consultants and recovery of the associated costs agreed within the PPA.

The fees are:

  • £20,000 for larger scale major development
  •  (more than 35 new homes or 5,000 square metres of non-residential floor space)
  • £25,000 for development which requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The fees cover the administrative costs and the initial technical assessment reviews – e.g.

  • financial viability
  • daylight, sunlight and overshadowing
  • noise and the environmental statement review.