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Cambridge City Council

Improved planning advice service for Greater Cambridge launched

News release from 3 December 2020

The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service has revamped the way it provides advice to people in the area who plan to submit a planning application, to bring the two separate processes previously offered by Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils into a single, new, streamlined service.  

The new pre-application service offers a wide range of advice ranging from a 15 minute free consultation with a planner about minor household applications, through to paid-for specialist advice on a number of aspects of planning, including listed building expertise, ecology and housing. The aim of the service is to help potential applicants develop the best quality proposals that will meet with planning requirements in the area, to help them to be validated and decided more quickly.

You can apply for advice, book appointments and find more information on the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service's website.

What advice is available?

  • A free 15 minute conversation with a member of the planning team to discuss minor household matters, such as back extensions, new dormer windows, fences and hedges, garages and outbuildings.
  • Paid-for services including:
    • A 30 minute video consultation with a member of the planning team on small household or business projects, such as building extensions, external changes and advertisement consent
    • A site meeting with a planner to look at your site and offer advice
    • Input from a specialist planner, such as on design, heritage, environmental health, ecology or trees
    • Bespoke advice packages and planning performance agreements for large and complex projects.
  • Clear written feedback using a traffic light system to show how likely it is that your proposal will be acceptable in planning terms.

Fees are waived for parish councils, small charities and applications specifically required for the needs of disabled people.

The refreshed pre-application service has been developed through feedback from local applicants, architects, agents and other users of the service and is now live.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Open Spaces, Cambridge City Council, commented: “I am very aware of the value of pre-application advice because I’ve used it myself in my work as an architect. It helps applicants and those working for them to develop proposals which meet the aims of our planning policies, respond well to the site and setting, and respect the unique context of Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire’s communities.

“So I strongly welcome this significant improvement to the service and I am confident it will raise the quality of the proposals that are put forward.”

Cllr Dr. Tumi Hawkins, Lead Cabinet Member for Planning at South Cambridgeshire District Council, commented: “We are committed to continuously improving the service that our planners provide to our communities. This is a key step in aligning the way that planning works across Greater Cambridge, following the creation of the Shared Planning Service in 2018. It represents a real improvement for everyone and we are glad that local businesses and residents can now benefit from a much more efficient and reliable pre-application advice service, giving good advice and helping them submit applications that can be validated and decided quickly.”