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Applying for planning permission

Pre-application advice

What we offer

We offer a Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) service for you to speak with a planning officer and discuss proposals before you make a planning application. We can advise you on how to make your application, what information you will need to submit with it and the likely issues when it is considered.  

A Pre-Application Discussion will improve the quality of your application and give you a better chance of getting permission before paying a planning fee. It will also help us deal with your application more quickly. 

You can use VU.CITY as part of the Pre-Application process.

Cost of a Pre-Application Discussion

Local scale
  • 1-9 residential units
  • 200 – 1,999 square metres commercial floor space (where not major development)
  • Other local development not falling into Large scale local category
£500 excluding VAT 
Large scale local 
  • 10 – 49 residential units
  • 2,000 – 4,999 square metres commercial floor space (where not major development)
£1,000 excluding VAT
Major scale
  • 50 – 99 residential units
  • Other major development not falling into Large scale major category
£1,500 excluding VAT
Large scale major
  • 100 residential units or more
  • 10,000 square metres or greater commercial floor space
£2,000 excluding VAT

PADs for householders or commercial properties under 200 square metres are free. There is also no charge for non-profit community related projects.

What to expect

We want to help you through the planning application process and will provide advice based on the information you give us. 

Included as part of the fee is an initial meeting and a follow up meeting where required. An initial meeting is only included for large scale major proposals with a charge for additional meetings if needed.

The charge for additional meetings, if they are needed is £500 or £1,000 for large scale major proposals.

Supporting information

When submitting your Pre-Application Decision form this essential information is needed:

  • Fee
  • Location plan to 1:1250 or 1:2500 scale
  • The site to be outlined in red with a north point shown
  • Any neighbouring land in the applicant’s ownership marked in blue
  • Sketch plans and elevations, existing and proposed
  • Details of the access and parking
  • Planning history if known
  • Photographs of the site and surroundings
  • Technical studies if available. For example transport, flood risk, drainage, contamination risk and trees

Making an appointment

If you would like to make an appointment you can:

  • complete the online Pre-Application Discussion form (link opens in new window)
  • or email us to request a Pre-Application Discussion form. You should return your completed form to us by emailing or posting it to:

    Belfast Planning Service
    Ground Floor
    Cecil Ward Building
    4-10 Linenhall Street
    BT2 8BP

To pay for your Pre-Application Discussion, you can:

  • call 028 9032 0202 and use your debit or credit card, or
  • pay in person at our planning reception using your debit or credit card, cash or cheque. Cheques must be made out to Belfast City Council.


We do not publish requests for pre-application advice but we may be obligated to disclose this information in response to any relevant freedom of information request received. You must give your agreement for this to be disclosed or provide reasons why it should not on your application form.

Duty Planning Officer

We also offer a Duty Planning Officer service between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. You can contact the Duty Planning Officer by calling 028 9050 0510 or in person (at the Cecil Ward Building, 4-10 Linenhall Street, Belfast, BT2 8BP) for general planning advice.

If you have specific proposals, we advise you to make a request for a Pre-Application Discussion.

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