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Pre-application Advice

If you wish to carry out building work, change the use of a building or land, or any other development, the planning authority offers a pre-application advice service. This is a non-statutory, valuable service, with professional advice provided by Development Management, intended to guide and inform development proposals. Advice is provided free of charge.

Development Management will aim to provide written responses within 20 working days; agents are requested to make clients aware of this timescale. The potential requirement for further information, a site visit, or other priorities mean that an extension to this timescale may be required to ensure the best possible response.

Advice provided can be technical only, such as the form required, the planning fee applicable, documents required to be submitted with an application, or likely timescales.

However, advice is more commonly provided on the acceptability of proposed development, and whether it would be likely to meet the requirements of relevant policies, or changes that could be made to proposed development. This can help save time or fees when using an architect or planning agent.

By seeking pre-application advice in writing, you will receive a response that:

  • Can explain how relevant policies of the Orkney Local Development Plan will be applied to your proposed development.
  • Can identify at an early stage where there is a need for specialist input, for example from Roads Services, Environmental Health, or an external agency.
  • Can identify information or documents that are likely to be required to accompany a planning application, for example a Flood Risk Assessment or tree survey.
  • May reduce the time required to process a subsequent formal application.
  • Will confirm whether a proposal is unacceptable, which can save you the time and cost of submitting a formal application that would likely be refused.

The following are issues often addressed within pre-application advice:

  • Policies - The principle of development and any relevant planning policies.
  • Site history - Relevant planning history and specific constraints identified.
  • Design - Specific comments regarding proposed design, including site layout, scale of development and materials.
  • Roads - Access standards, parking and manoeuvring, public transport, cycle parking, requirement for transport assessment.
  • Natural heritage - Otter or bat surveys, habitat surveys, tree surveys, designated sites.
  • Historic/built environment - Building surveys, impacts on the setting of designated sites, archaeology.
  • Amenity - Noise, lights, dust, requirement for surveys, impact on daylight/sunlight.
  • Flooding and drainage - Management of surface water, Flood Risk Assessment.

Pre-application advice will occasionally include comments from internal consultation bodies, such as Roads Services, and will generally not include advice or input from external agencies, such as Historic Environment Scotland, SEPA, or NatureScot.


All pre-application planning advice is given strictly without prejudice to any subsequent decision of Orkney Islands Council on any formal planning application. Every effort will be made to provide accurate professional advice; however, we cannot guarantee to cover all matters that will be considered in a formal application and the Council is not bound by this advice in the event of submission of a formal application. In addition to carrying out consultations, neighbours and other members of the public have a right to make representations on formal applications. Such representations and consultation responses will be fully taken into account when the Council determines a formal planning application.

The pre-application advice process can be completed with only basic information, or with detailed information. The detail of any response will be informed by the level of details submitted, and based on the facts of the proposal and context as presented. The minimum information expected is included within the Pre-application Planning Advice form.

Written enquiries should be made using the Pre-Application Advice form, available from the 'Related Downloads' section of this page. One version can be saved and completed on screen and the other can be printed and completed by hand.

Before you request pre-application advice you may wish to check whether your proposed development requires planning permission on the Permitted Development page.

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