We offer a pre-application advice service. Full details of the service, and the applicable charges, are provided in our Pre-application advice services guide .
Types of advice available
Two different categories of pre-application advice are offered, each with different options available:
The Engage service has several options to give applicants more choice in how they receive their pre-application advice. It is available for all development proposals (except for domestic/householder extensions and outbuildings). All options involve a site meeting as we consider that meaningful pre-application advice should be a collaborative process, starting with a shared understanding of the extent and characteristics of the development site.
Applicants may choose from the following options:
- ENGAGE 1 Advice (E1) - To receive their pre-application advice via a site meeting only
- ENGAGE 2 Advice (E2) - To receive their pre-application advice via a site meeting, with a written summary of the meeting afterwards
- ENGAGE 3 Advice (E3) - To receive their pre-application advice via a site meeting, followed by a written note of the meeting, and the opportunity for a further follow-up meeting
For major, strategic developments we provide our Forum advice service. This allows applicants to develop their proposal with a planning officer, who will be assigned to your site and will visit the site with you and make a written assessment.
Applicants will then present their proposed development to the councillor engagement forum, which consists of a selection of planning committee councillors, ward councillors and parish council/local group representatives. The forum will usually be chaired by either the head of planning and place or the service manager for development management.
Advice for householders
Unfortunately, you cannot apply for Engage or Forum pre-application planning advice for domestic householder developments (ie an extension to a house or a domestic structure within the curtilage of a dwelling).
However we do provide pre-application advice for home improvement proposals by way of standard guidance. The householder design guide sets out some design recommendations, which if followed will improve your chances of gaining planning permission. Please note that each application is assessed on its own merits and therefore this is only generic advice.
Specific advice is available from the Planning Portal, including an interactive house and various project guides (including outbuilding, conservatory, porch, loft conversion, extension, driveway, terrace/patio, garage conversion, windows and doors and/or small scale renewable energy technologies).
A list of local architects has been produced by the Lancaster and Westmorland Society of Architects (LAWSA), which is the local branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Publication of this list does not constitute a recommendation of any individual on the list by Lancaster City Council.
Specialist heritage advice
We offer an advice service regarding proposals for separate (standalone) listed building consent applications or separate (standalone) relevant demolition in a conservation area applications.
- Full details of the services available are provided in our Pre-application advice services guide
As part of our commitment to tackling the climate emergency, Lancaster City Council encourages the use of renewable technologies on domestic properties wherever possible. One of the most common ways in which to make renewable energy is via the installation of solar panels on your property.
Unless you live in a Listed Building or the panels are being located on a Scheduled Ancient Monument, most solar panels do not require planning permission, subject to certain, nationally-set criteria.
The scenarios below are intended to help you determine whether your solar panel project requires planning permission.
If you are installing solar panels on a house, or on a block of flats, or on a building within your boundary, then the following criteria must be met:
- Panels should not be installed above the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney)
- Panels should not project more than 20cm from the roof slope or wall surface
- The panels must not be installed on any building that is within the grounds of a Listed Building or a site designated as a Scheduled Monument
- In a Conservation Area (or a World Heritage Site), panels must not be fitted to a wall which fronts a highway
Additionally, there are national conditions which must be observed in all cases. Solar panels on a building must be sited 'so far as practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the area', and if the panels are no longer required then they should be 'removed as soon as reasonably practicable'.
If you are installing solar panels within the grounds of a house, or block of flats (a stand-alone installation), then the following criteria must be met:
- No part of the installation shall exceed 4 metres in height
- The installation should be at least 5 metres from the boundary of the property
- The size of any solar array of panels should be no more than 9 square metres (or 3 metres wide by 3 metres deep)
- Panels should not be installed within the grounds of a Listed Building or a Scheduled Monument
- In a Conservation Area (or a World Heritage Site), the installation should not be any nearer to a highway than the nearest part of the house
The national conditions that must be observed are the same as those referred to above, i.e. that the panels must be sited 'so far as practicable, to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building and the area', and if the panels are no longer required then they should be 'removed as soon as reasonably practicable'.
How to apply
- To apply for pre-application advice or heritage advice, complete the online form
You can also submit your application using our paper application form which should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that submitting an application by this method may incur a delay due to the additional administrative work required.
The quickest way to pay is online through our eStore. You will need your application site address, your pre-application reference number if you have one and your debit or credit card.
Fees can also be paid by cheque (please write your name and the site address on the back) or over the phone using your credit or debit card. For phone payments please call 01524 582950 (option 2) between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Last updated: 05 April 2023