Pre-application advisory service

Since 2011, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has provided a formal pre-application advisory service. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) actively encourages pre-application engagement. It advises that early engagement has significant potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application process. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, being a Unitary Authority, is able to engage the services of in-house local highway authority engineers, drainage engineers (Local Lead Flood Authority) and the Council’s education and public health services. This is a valuable process because it can identify improvements needed to a scheme before it is formally submitted.

The Council aims to determine applications within statutory time periods, which, in the majority of situations, will not provide sufficient time to negotiate necessary amendments. In addition, the Council has introduced new Enhanced Services in the form of “Platinum” and “Gold” services relating to Minor Planning Applications (including changes of use) and householder applications, where applications will be guaranteed to be determined within a shorter specified period.

The service will allow a better understanding of how your application will be judged against the policies in the local plan and other material considerations, including:

  • early identification of where specialist input is needed on matters such as historic buildings, trees or landscape, contaminated or unstable land.
  • the opportunity to develop or modify a proposal to make it potentially more acceptable to the community, based on local circumstances, and help to ensure a smoother and quicker passage through the planning application process.
  • a potential saving in the time spent by both the case officer and customer’s professional agents working together to formulate a proposal
  • where a proposal is completely unacceptable to the LPA, the advice can save the customer the costs of finalising an application and paying an application fee.
  • stops wasting time for all parties on applications where there is inadequate or insufficient supporting information.
  • raises the quality of development.
  • secures satisfaction with the process
  • reduces confrontation and improves collaboration in the planning process

If you enter into pre-application discussions it is expected that the guidance provided by Council officers is taken into account in the formal planning application submission. 

If it is clear that no pre-application advice has been sought or taken into account in a subsequent planning application, the Council may not be able to negotiate on a scheme and applications are likely to be determined as submitted.

General advice

General advice will still be available, at no cost, about the planning process such as if you require planning permission, how to submit an application or how the process works. You can also find guidance on the Planning Portal.

If you require general planning advice, you can contact the planning team online.

Planning general enquiry

Pre-application advice: how to get it

Requests for formal pre-application advice should be made on the prescribed enquiry form only, with the supporting information and submitted by email or in writing.


Write to the Planning Manager, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, King William Street, Town Hall, Blackburn, BB1 7DY.

The enquiry form can be found in the document section, below.

For all major development schemes, the Council encourage developers to contact the Growth Team. This will help understand the proposed development, the processes involved and an explanation of the services that are provided.


These meetings are in advance of any formal pre-application enquiry meeting. Whilst the outcome of a planning application cannot be guaranteed until it has gone through the formal decision-making process, an application is more likely to receive a positive outcome if it is well prepared and supported by relevant development plan policies. In addition, obtaining pre-application advice will ensure a speedier decision, time and cost savings, and higher quality developments.

The appropriate fee can be paid by debit or credit card over the telephone 01254 585 960. Once your request has been received it will be processed by the Council. You may be contacted by a planning case officer to request a meeting or for further information to help us process your enquiry.

Charging scheme coverage

This covers all requests for pre-application advice regardless of whether a meeting, site visit or written response is requested. The charging scheme includes the cost of obtaining specialist advice from other Council Services e.g. Highways, Public Protection, Drainage and external consultees (where appropriate), for example United Utilities and Natural England.

If you wish to obtain advice from the consultees such as the Environment Agency, you will need to contact them direct and pay their appropriate fee.

For all MAJOR applications a meeting is strongly advised, and subsequent meetings will be arranged as we deem necessary which are subject to an additional fee. A Major application is split into two categories, either Large Scale Major or Major (as defined below) [Blackburn With Darwen Borough Council’s definition].

The process

We aim to provide you with a written reply within 28 days of receiving the request, or within 10 days of a meeting that has been arranged. Our written response will be sent via email.

Major schemes will normally be dealt with by a Senior Officer, and the initial meeting will also be attended by the Development Manager.

To ensure that the process is seamless as possible, the case officer will usually deal with any subsequent planning application. There may be delays in you receiving your written response and you are urged to keep in contact with the case officer to obtain regular updates. This is due to having to consult statutory consultees and other groups prior to providing you with the advice.

“Large scale major” development proposals include:

  • residential schemes of over 50 units;
  • retail, commercial and industrial schemes with a floorspace of 2000sqm or more on sites of 2 hectares or more;
  • educational, hospital, leisure and recreational schemes on sites of 2 hectares or more;
  • schemes with 2 or more land uses on the sites of 1.5 hectares or more;
  • changes of use of building(s) with a gross floor area of 1,500sqm or more;
  • any schemes requiring and Environmental Impact Assessment.

“Other Major” development proposals include:

  • residential schemes of between 10 and 49 units or, where the number of dwellings is not specified, a site area of between 0.5 and 2.499 hectares;
  • retail, commercial and industrial schemes with a floorspace of between 1000sqm and 1999sqm, or on sites of between 1 hectare and 1.999 hectares;
  • educational, hospital, leisure and recreation schemes on sites of between 1 hectare and 1.999 hectares;
  • schemes with 2 or more land uses on sites of between 1 hectare and 1.499 hectares;
  • changes of use of building(s) with a gross floor area of between 1,000sqm and 1,499 sqm.

Further information

Secured By Design

SBD is owned by the UK Police Service, supported by the Home Office. The initiative guides and encourages those engaged within the specification, design and build of new developments, and those undertaking major or minor property refurbishment, to adopt crime prevention measures and improve the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings, to provide safe places to live, work, shop and visit. The initiative is administered and delivered by Lancashire Constabulary Designing Out Crime Officers who work closely with Urban Planners, Developers, Architects and Local Authority Planning Teams.

SBD has produced a series of authoritative Design Guides that assist the building, design and construction industry to incorporate security measures into developments, comply with the Building Regulations in England, Scotland and Wales and meet the requirements of SBD accreditation to achieve the SBD award. Further information, copies of the SBD guidance documents, interactive 3D design tool, Member Companies, SBD accredited products and application forms can be accessed via the Secured by Design website.

The Safer Parking Scheme Park Mark award

The British Parking Association Safer Parking Scheme is a national standard for UK car parks that have low crime and measures in place to ensure the safety of people and vehicles. A ‘Park Mark’ is awarded to each car park that achieves the challenging standards. The scheme is supported by the National Police Chief’s Council and Secured by Design, and is administered and delivered in Lancashire by Park Mark Regional Assessors.

Further information about the Safer Parking Scheme, car park design guidance, accreditation process and how to join can be accessed via the above Safer Parking Scheme website.