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Our Pre-application offer at Croydon 
How we manage to provide a comprehensive, 
proportionate and good value service 
Nicola Townsend 
London Borough of Croydon
Pre-application process: historic 
problems 
– Silo working 
– Inputs at the wrong stage – fixing problems rather than 
designing success 
– A mindset of identifying problems rather than working to find 
solutions 
– A tendency to only engage superficially with proposals in the 
pre-application phase 
– Limited engagement with Members/public 
– First time Members see a strategic item is when determining
Pre-application process 
Aim 
• Improve the quality of development in Croydon 
Objectives 
• Work with developers to align mutual objectives 
• Fully harness the planning skills in our service 
• Involve members constructively in the process 
• Create the conditions for effective engagement of the local 
community 
• Get Croydon building
Key ingredients 
Get the organisation, processes & decision making right: 
• The structure of the Development Management service 
• The relationship between DM & Spatial Planning 
• The pre-app process itself 
• The use of project management 
• The wording of your constitution 
• Planning committee organisation 
• Member training 
• Member involvement 
• Delegation scheme
Departmental structure & working 
• Strategic Applications Team 
– Virtual team 
– Centre of excellence for dealing with big applications 
• Having a project management mindset 
– Clear responsibilities & expectations 
• Spatial Planning working relationship with 
Development Management 
– Integrated process
SP & DM integration: how not to do it 
Spatial Planning Development Management 
Urban Design phase → Detailed application preparation phase
SP & DM integration: how we now do it 
Spatial Planning 
Development Management 
Urban Design phase → Detailed application preparation phase
Pre-application: What we offer at Croydon 
1. Duty planning officer service 
15 minute appointment to discuss householder and business extensions 
2. Correspondence service 
Appropriate for domestic extensions or shop fronts, signs and alterations to 
small business premises 
3. Pre-application meeting service 
It is not suitable for complex, major developments, but it is ideal for other 
types of planning application 
4. Development team service (DTS) 
The DTS is a new enhanced service designed for development proposals that 
are more complex and likely to raise a number of issues
DTS approach 
• Strategic schemes are complex projects – recognise that and use 
the right tools to manage them properly 
• Preparing a major application costs a lot of money – efficiency 
saves time & money 
• Developers want as much certainty as possible – they are willing 
to pay for and engage in an enhanced service if they have 
confidence in it 
• There are two approaches to pre-apps: 
– “Show & tell” 
– Joint design team approach 
• Co-ordinated, collaborative & constructive
What is the DTS? 
The stages What we expect from the 
developer 
What happens What is the expected outcome 
Initiation 
meeting 
• OS map and description of 
development 
• Meeting with more senior 
officers to look at strategic 
issues 
• Consider the process 
needed 
• Planning statement covering: 
– Strategic policy issues 
– Project plan 
– Draft Planning Performance 
Agreement 
Urban 
design / 
Stage 1 
• Draft Design Statement 
including an urban design 
analysis 
• One or more design 
workshops to understand 
the site, it’s surroundings 
and the nature of the 
development and how it can 
be accommodated 
• Design Statement and concept 
scheme 
• PRESENTATION TO STRATEGIC 
PLANNING COMMITTEE 
Communit 
y 
engageme 
nt 
• Illustrative material of proposed 
scheme, preferably including 
options 
• Meaningful engagement 
with the community affected 
• An explicit feedback 
session 
• Consultation response report and 
amendments to concept scheme 
Application 
preparatio 
n 
• Draft planning application 
• Draft Impact Assessment 
• Draft heads of terms of S106 
legal agreement 
• One or more workshops to 
understand the details of 
the development, its 
impacts on immediate 
neighbours and the 
surrounding area generally 
• Completed planning application 
• Planning Performance Agreement 
• Agreed S106 heads of terms 
• PRESENTATION TO STRATEGIC 
PLANNING COMMITTEE 
Closedown 
phase 
• Final amendments to planning 
application 
• Address any final 
comments from members 
• A valid planning application ready 
for submission
How does the DTS work? 
• Start with a red line around a site 
• The scheme evolves through collaborative working 
• Requires commitment from both sides 
• Project focus 
• Deal with all issues prior to application submission 
• Planning application stage not place for negotiation 
• Clean and good application = determine in time 
Cost 
Payable in stages and varies depending on the scale and 
complexity of the development. Assuming one main 
meeting at each stage: 
• £1,800 (plus VAT) for minor applications 
• £3,600 (plus VAT) for major applications
Can it work? 
• Scheme: 100,000 ft2 spec offices 
• Location: close East Croydon Station 
• First Contact with LPA: January 2012 
• Application submitted: February 2012 
• Planning permission issued: March 2012 
• Construction starts on site: July 2012
Other schemes to have been through 
DTS 
• Westfield/Hammerson 
• Cane Hill 
• Lion Green Road 
• Taberner House 
• Quest House 
• Tesco Purley Way 
• Schools applications
DTS conclusions 
• A culture change for members, most officers and many 
developers 
• Took time to fully introduce all elements of the process 
• Members are involved constructively in the process 
• Fully harnessing the skills in our service in an integrated way 
• Mind shift to pro-development 
• Developers are gaining confidence in Croydon 
• Most importantly better schemes are emerging 
• Croydon is open for business!
“ The integration of our pre-application process into the council’s 
committee process has meant that strategic planning committee 
members now play a greater role in the design process and input 
into the scheme’s development before it is submitted as a planning 
application. Our aim is to encourage high quality developments that 
enhance Croydon and this is enabling us to do that.” 
Cllr David Osland, Former Chair of Strategic Planning 
Committee & Cllr Paul Scott RIBA, Current Chair of Strategic 
Planning Committee , London Borough of Croydon

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Our pre application offer at Croydon Council

  • 1. Our Pre-application offer at Croydon How we manage to provide a comprehensive, proportionate and good value service Nicola Townsend London Borough of Croydon
  • 2. Pre-application process: historic problems – Silo working – Inputs at the wrong stage – fixing problems rather than designing success – A mindset of identifying problems rather than working to find solutions – A tendency to only engage superficially with proposals in the pre-application phase – Limited engagement with Members/public – First time Members see a strategic item is when determining
  • 3. Pre-application process Aim • Improve the quality of development in Croydon Objectives • Work with developers to align mutual objectives • Fully harness the planning skills in our service • Involve members constructively in the process • Create the conditions for effective engagement of the local community • Get Croydon building
  • 4. Key ingredients Get the organisation, processes & decision making right: • The structure of the Development Management service • The relationship between DM & Spatial Planning • The pre-app process itself • The use of project management • The wording of your constitution • Planning committee organisation • Member training • Member involvement • Delegation scheme
  • 5. Departmental structure & working • Strategic Applications Team – Virtual team – Centre of excellence for dealing with big applications • Having a project management mindset – Clear responsibilities & expectations • Spatial Planning working relationship with Development Management – Integrated process
  • 6. SP & DM integration: how not to do it Spatial Planning Development Management Urban Design phase → Detailed application preparation phase
  • 7. SP & DM integration: how we now do it Spatial Planning Development Management Urban Design phase → Detailed application preparation phase
  • 8. Pre-application: What we offer at Croydon 1. Duty planning officer service 15 minute appointment to discuss householder and business extensions 2. Correspondence service Appropriate for domestic extensions or shop fronts, signs and alterations to small business premises 3. Pre-application meeting service It is not suitable for complex, major developments, but it is ideal for other types of planning application 4. Development team service (DTS) The DTS is a new enhanced service designed for development proposals that are more complex and likely to raise a number of issues
  • 9. DTS approach • Strategic schemes are complex projects – recognise that and use the right tools to manage them properly • Preparing a major application costs a lot of money – efficiency saves time & money • Developers want as much certainty as possible – they are willing to pay for and engage in an enhanced service if they have confidence in it • There are two approaches to pre-apps: – “Show & tell” – Joint design team approach • Co-ordinated, collaborative & constructive
  • 10. What is the DTS? The stages What we expect from the developer What happens What is the expected outcome Initiation meeting • OS map and description of development • Meeting with more senior officers to look at strategic issues • Consider the process needed • Planning statement covering: – Strategic policy issues – Project plan – Draft Planning Performance Agreement Urban design / Stage 1 • Draft Design Statement including an urban design analysis • One or more design workshops to understand the site, it’s surroundings and the nature of the development and how it can be accommodated • Design Statement and concept scheme • PRESENTATION TO STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE Communit y engageme nt • Illustrative material of proposed scheme, preferably including options • Meaningful engagement with the community affected • An explicit feedback session • Consultation response report and amendments to concept scheme Application preparatio n • Draft planning application • Draft Impact Assessment • Draft heads of terms of S106 legal agreement • One or more workshops to understand the details of the development, its impacts on immediate neighbours and the surrounding area generally • Completed planning application • Planning Performance Agreement • Agreed S106 heads of terms • PRESENTATION TO STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE Closedown phase • Final amendments to planning application • Address any final comments from members • A valid planning application ready for submission
  • 11. How does the DTS work? • Start with a red line around a site • The scheme evolves through collaborative working • Requires commitment from both sides • Project focus • Deal with all issues prior to application submission • Planning application stage not place for negotiation • Clean and good application = determine in time Cost Payable in stages and varies depending on the scale and complexity of the development. Assuming one main meeting at each stage: • £1,800 (plus VAT) for minor applications • £3,600 (plus VAT) for major applications
  • 12. Can it work? • Scheme: 100,000 ft2 spec offices • Location: close East Croydon Station • First Contact with LPA: January 2012 • Application submitted: February 2012 • Planning permission issued: March 2012 • Construction starts on site: July 2012
  • 13. Other schemes to have been through DTS • Westfield/Hammerson • Cane Hill • Lion Green Road • Taberner House • Quest House • Tesco Purley Way • Schools applications
  • 14. DTS conclusions • A culture change for members, most officers and many developers • Took time to fully introduce all elements of the process • Members are involved constructively in the process • Fully harnessing the skills in our service in an integrated way • Mind shift to pro-development • Developers are gaining confidence in Croydon • Most importantly better schemes are emerging • Croydon is open for business!
  • 15. “ The integration of our pre-application process into the council’s committee process has meant that strategic planning committee members now play a greater role in the design process and input into the scheme’s development before it is submitted as a planning application. Our aim is to encourage high quality developments that enhance Croydon and this is enabling us to do that.” Cllr David Osland, Former Chair of Strategic Planning Committee & Cllr Paul Scott RIBA, Current Chair of Strategic Planning Committee , London Borough of Croydon