Planning Application Help & Advice

Advice From SCC:

Please note that if you contact SCC for advice, you must make it clear that you live in an Article 4(2) Conservation area. The standard planning portal guidance often not does not apply to conservation areas. Furthermore, normal permitted development (ie NO planning permission required) does not apply to those properties in the Triangle which are covered by the Article 4(2) direction.

If you have a particular question about the fabric of your building, or are seeking generic conservation advice you can email the conservation officer Jon Willetts –

Otherwise development questions (such as those seeking advice on extensions, demolition, conversions, or creating a new access etc.) should be directed to the planning department A pre-application service is available which can help get a comprehensive response in accordance with local planning policy. This can avoid confusion and save time and money in the long run.

Pre-planning advice is available from SCC see here.
The fee is currently £42, but a 50% discount may be available for more limited advice at an early stage.

Help and (informal) advice from OTRA:

We are always happy to answer any questions or help with applications, please feel free to ask via telephone at:


Email via contact form here or ask on the community forum. OTRA can only give informal advice, all decisions regarding planning applications set with SCC.

OTRA is not involved with any planning decision beyond being a consultee, although we can make comments in support or as an objection to the planning department. By discussing your proposal with OTRA we may be able to tell you whether you need to apply or not, or whether something in your plans appears that it would be objected to.

We may be able to:

  • advise on how your design can be improved to stand the best chance of complying with conservation expectations.
  • advise on how your application can be worded to stand the best chance of succeeding. Being specific in regard to materials and dimensions and supplying a detailed supporting Heritage Statement can be especially useful.
  • give you a rough (non binding) idea of whether we might object or support your application. As this is a committee decision, it may only be possible if:
    1. we are shown all the details exactly as the application will be.
    2. we are given enough time to meet and consider.

What we cannot do:

  • Guarantee the outcome of your application.
  • Give permission to quote any advice we may give on your application. You may say that you have consulted with us but not that we had approved or agreed to support your application. Again nothing we advise can be legally binding.

Note that although it is possible to for an applicant to amend a “live” application, this is usually not something we would normally be able to give advice on due to the time it may take to convene a committee meeting.


  • Read the CAMP and our conservation pages to see if there are any glaring issues with your application in regard to the conservation requirements. If in doubt speak to us or the Conservation Officer.
  • Try to go beyond what may seem the bare minimum required by the regulations, for example if you use lime mortar or reclaimed bricks as advised, try to match the colour well. New tiles can be placed randomly among old ones instead of all together creating a patch that will take years to weather in and blend.
  • Give as much detail in your application as possible. If something important is left out (e.g. materials, dimensions) it can lead to unnecessary objections from consultees and other residents. Although the planning authority may approve but impose certain things as conditions, they may just reject and ask you to resubmit.
  • Artist sketches are often very useful to show a streetscene. This is especially important when adding significant features such as dormer windows as typical elevation plans can often create a false impression of the actual streetscene. 
  • For larger projects it is worth making sure that your architect is familiar with conservation areas, Article 4(2), and ideally familiar with this locality.
  • Be cautious as some architects and contractors may cite precedents that are not always relevant. For example work carried out before the Triangle became a conservation area. When there are many examples though, it can be more relevant.
  • Beware any double glazing installers, driveway specialists or solar panel fitters who try to convince you that planning permission is not required.
  • All contractors and suppliers need to be aware of the need for the correct materials: when modern materials may be acceptable and when heritage materials are paramount.
  • Manufacturer’s brochures can be useful (provided photographs are accurate!)
  • Supply clear and detailed plans with accurate dimensions. Without going overboard on minutiae, it can be worth making sure that you include crucial dimensions (e.g. width of window frames, casement rails, transoms etc).
  • When applying to change garden surfacing, include details of drainage e.g. permeable, pervious, porus, drained to soakaway etc.

Precedents: “They’ve done it why can’t I?”

You might think that because a certain feature exists on other buildings in the area then this will serve as a useful precedent. It may or may not be the case this will help with  approval of your application. It could even count against it if the planning officer thinks there are already too many of a certain feature. The planning authorities are not bound to follow a precedent, and they will  consider each application on its own merit. However they may still take certain precedents into account, especially  in the interests of consistency when there may be more than one example. We can offer a rough guide on how useful a precedent may be.

Useful precedents may include:

  • Features that were included in the original development of the triangle, that are appropriate to the scale, design and era of your property.
  • Developments carried out (and approved) since the conservation status was granted in 2005.
  • Precedents where the circumstances are very similar.

Less useful precedents may include:

  • Features that have significant differences to, are not appropriate to, the scale, design and era of your specific property.
  • Developments, alterations or demolitions that were carried out before the Triangle achieved conservation status. This is particulary true of later (post war) developments that use materials that are not sympathetic to the era. It is something we see a lot of – especially regarding replacement UPVC rainwater goods or windows installed in the 1990s that would now probably not be granted permission.

What can go wrong?

Hopefully if you have a competent conservation architect, builders who are familiar with heritage materials, and a well thought out application then it stands a good chance. But nothing is certain.

Generally the process will take 8 weeks including a 3 week public consultation period. Anyone can make a public comment during that time, either as a neighbour, a consultee, or “other.”

If there are a certain number of valid comments received which are contrary to the planning officers’ recommendation, then the process will usually trigger a council Planning and Rights of Way Panel meeting, at which the applicant and members of the public may present their case (maximum 5 minutes). The application is then voted on by both planners and a councillors.

If an applicant is not happy with a decision they then have the right to make an appeal.

Recent applications



Disclaimer: This is purely for unofficial guidance. None of what we can tell you can be taken in any way as permission or authority to carry out works. OTRA cannot be held liable for any work you may carry out based solely on the information on this page. If in any doubt at all you can contact us for informal but non-legally binding advice, but for official advice and permisson contact Southampton City Council. This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information. This can not be assumed to be a comprehensive list or entirely up-to-date and currently accurate. More detailed information about the features which give the triangle its character can be see in the Character Appraisal & Management Plan