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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

Planning advice for surface water management

Dorset Council offers a chargeable service for detailed planning advice for major development. The information that follows sets out the background, charging arrangements and how to obtain advice.


Dorset Council acts as Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) for the Dorset area excluding Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.  As LLFA we were, in April 2015, along with other LLFAs nationwide, designated as statutory consultee for Surface Water management in relation to major planning applications. Major planning applications are defined in accordance with the Town and Country Planning, Development Management Procedure, England Order 2015 and include ten or more houses, include floor space greater than 1000m2 or sites larger than 1Ha.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (February 2019) paragraph 165 states:

Major developments should incorporate sustainable drainage systems unless there is clear evidence that this would be inappropriate. The systems used should:

  • take account of advice from the lead local flood authority
  • have appropriate proposed minimum operational standards
  • have maintenance arrangements in place to ensure an acceptable standard of operation for the lifetime of the development; and
  • where possible, provide multifunctional benefits

In our role as statutory consultee for Surface Water, we will, for registered planning applications, assess applicant’s submitted drainage proposals against national and local planning policy, material planning issues and best practice. Our assessment of any submissions will clearly express reasons for any objection or otherwise. We shall provide further, formal responses at the request of the relevant planning officer, however, for detailed discussions, separate to the planning consultation process, a planning advice charge applies.

Please note, any advice obtained through this service is provided independently of other statutory consultees and does not form part of any advice issued by Dorset Council’s Network Development team.


Developers do not need to seek planning application advice from us but there are significant benefits in doing so, for instance:

  • advice on flood risk management issues including indication of proposals deemed unacceptable that could affect development options
  • identifying any gaps in data, information and reference to relevant evidence
  • understanding of how national and local policies & guidance will be applied to your proposal
  • written confirmation of the advice given to you, which can be submitted in support of any subsequent planning application
  • may save time and money during the planning process


A request for planning advice should be emailed to

You will receive a reply within 10 working days to advise you of any further information required and confirmation of the fee. The FRM team will agree with you a programme (or in the absence of a specified programme, provide a response within 21 working days of our receiving your acceptance of the fee and sufficient information to support the application for advice).

You will receive a written response detailing our advice and can request an additional chargeable meeting, if desired. We will use reasonable skill, care and diligence when we provide you with advice, which will be based on the information available to use and the laws, policy and guidance in place at the time.

After agreeing what service is right for you, you will be asked to provide us with the following:

  • a location plan clearly indicating the site boundary
  • written confirmation that you will pay the agreed advice charge (you will be invoiced after provision of written advice or meeting, whichever is later)
  • any other information critical to the consideration of the proposal including:
    • confirmation of the existing and historic uses of the site, including any planning history
    • a description of the proposed development, including sketch plans showing the proposal
    • any outline surface water strategy and/or flood risk assessment

Charging Arrangements

Dorset Council are authorised to recover the costs of planning advice under section 93 of the Local Government Act 2003 for discretionary services.

To provide up-front clarity the fees are covered by standard charges. These charges are divided into Major and Strategic Development categories and based on the offer of specific services. We will enter into discretionary dialog if your site does not clearly fit into one of these categories.

Major Development >=10 dwellings >0.5ha site area >1000m2 floor space

Request for surface water advice (first)

  • initial site screening - £100
  • written advice - £250
  • meeting and written advice - £500

Request for surface water advice (subsequent)

  • written advice - £100
  • meeting and written advice - £300

Strategic Development >=40 dwellings >1ha site area >2500 m2 floor space 

Request for surface water advice (first)

  • initial site screening - £200
  • written advice - £500
  • meeting and written advice - £750

Request for surface water advice (subsequent)

  • written advice - £200
  • meeting and written advice - £400

All prices listed exclude VAT at 20% 

A meeting without written advice is charged at £250 (or £200 for subsequent advice) regardless of classification.

Terms, conditions and disclaimers

  • your planning advice will only be sent once confirmation to pay the agreed fee has been received
  • any views or advice given by us are given without prejudice to formal consideration of any planning application or consent
  • your planning application will be subject to public consultation and ultimately decided by the Local Planning Authority
  • a copy of the written response may be passed to the relevant Local Planning Authority, unless you request otherwise
  • you must ensure that the advice and information we give you meets your needs, and you will remain responsible for any consequence we may arise from use of our advice
  • you should note we are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and we may be required to disclose certain information upon request
  • we shall not be held liable in contract, negligence or otherwise for the consequences of you following or relying upon the comments or views given to you by us or any act, omission, event or circumstance or series of acts events or circumstances relating to this agreement or with respect to the matters contemplated herein
  • our obligation to you under these terms and conditions may be suspended due to events beyond our reasonable control, that prevents us from undertaking or completing our advice within the timescales specified

Any dispute should be escalated to Dorset Council management and then to the council’s complaints procedure, Complaints to Dorset Council before any formal action or proceedings are taken by either party.

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