West Dunbartonshire Council is committed to taking a proactive role in supporting the delivery of high quality development.

The pre-application process is critical to this approach. Early and effective consultation and engagement can assist in avoiding delays and difficult situations once a planning application is submitted.


Pre-application fees are based on anticipated officer time in relation to the type of development.

Types of pre-application processes

The Council welcomes early engagement with all applicants and developers prior to the submission of any application. The submission of informed, detailed and comprehensive applications results in quicker decision making once an application is submitted.

In recognition that applications range in type, scale and complexity the Council offers a pre-application service that can be adapted to suit the needs of the applicant and Council alike.

The Council offers two different types of pre-application service:

Whilst applications are defined as either ‘local’ or ‘major’, in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Hierarchy of Development) (Scotland) Regulations 2009, the Council has moved away from using these categories to define the type of necessary pre-application process. This is in recognition that all applications vary in type, scale and complexity, and as such, the pre-application process should reflect the details of the proposal.

If you require advice on which pre-application process is most relevant to your proposal please contact development.management@west-dunbarton.gov.uk.

Permitted Development

Prior to engaging with the Council regarding the possible pre-application routes, it is recommended that applicants check whether the proposed development falls under what would be considered as permitted development to determine if planning permission is required or not. Further information regarding permitted development for householder development can be found at the link below:

Householder permitted development rights: guidance - updated 2021 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)


The Council will make every effort to ensure that the advice given in the pre-application process is as accurate as possible. However any advice given by Council officers for pre-application inquiries does not constitute a formal decision of the Council with regards to any planning application and, whilst it may be a material consideration, cannot be held to bind the Council in its validation or formal determination of a subsequent application. If an application is subsequently submitted which fails to take on board advice given by officers, then the Council may refuse it without further discussion with the applicant or their agent.

Freedom of Information

There is a possibility that, under the Freedom of Information Act, the Council will be asked to provide information regarding inquiries for pre-application advice and copies of any advice provided or correspondence entered into. This information may only be withheld if its disclosure could prejudice commercial interests, inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views during the planning process, or could prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs. Those seeking pre-application advice should provide a covering letter that sets out the reasons why, and for how long, any information relating to the case needs to remain confidential.

It will be for the Council to decide whether information can be treated as exempt from disclosure and the thrust of the legislation is to make information accessible unless there is a pressing reason why not. Each case will be assessed on its merits. The passage of time may remove the need for exemption as information becomes less sensitive. Generally notes and correspondence relating to pre-application discussion will not be treated as confidential once a planning application has been submitted and the case is in the public domain.