Major Developments

Applications for major developments

Processing agreements

We recommend that all applications involving major developments should be accompanied by a processing agreement. The purpose of a processing agreement is to set realistic and achievable timescales on when an application will be determined. It helps developers, relevant stakeholders and ourselves to work together through the planning process, setting out the key stages involved, identifying what information is required and setting timescales for the various stages of the process.

We encourage the use of processing agreements for major applications, you should contact us below with a view to agreeing a processing agreement at the earliest possible opportunity.

Download our Processing Agreement Template

Major pre-application advice service

We encourage developers and their agents to engage in discussions with us for major development proposals. This helps provide early indications of our view of a scheme. Discussions can also clarify the information needed for subsequent applications, help improve the quality of proposals and save time and money on working up proposals.

The more information you are able to supply, the more detailed our response will be.

Our Major Application Pre-Application Meetings will be held as a virtual meeting from 24 June 2020 onwards, until further notice, and a full pre-application response pack will still be provided. We ask prospective developers to provide as much information as possible in advance of the proposed scheduled meeting date and where possible to include a presentation by e-mail. Please be aware that our ability to provide a response within the four week target that we set ourselves will be challenging at this time.  Please go to our pages on pre-application advice for more information on our Major Pre-Appliction Advice Service

Street engineering review

We are currently trialling a new process for giving early and detailed feedback on the road layout at the pre-application advice stage, to help align planning applications with the requirements for Road Construction Consent. This pilot is open to both Major and other large housing developments. If you would like to find out more, contact

Design advice for the City of Inverness

The Inverness Design Review Panel provides free, confidential design advice at pre-application stage for major or locally significant development proposals in the city of Inverness. We encourage developers and their agents to engage with the panel in the initial stages of scheme design. Design reviews take place 6 times a year.

Proposal of application notice

All major developments are required to submit a proposal of application notice at least 12 weeks before submitting a planning application. The Proposal of Application Notice form includes guidance on what to include within the form. More information can be found on our Public Consultation and Engagement page.

Every Proposal of Application Notice will be reported to the relevant Planning Applications Committee. This makes sure that issues raised by councillors can be taken into account by the applicant in the submission of any subsequent planning application. For more information on this procedure please see the Guidance on the role of councillors in pre-application procedures presented to Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee, in May 2014.

Renewable energy developments

Many of the major developments we deal with in Highland are for renewable energy developments. You can read our policy approach, guidance and visualisation standards for more information.


Advice given by our officers does not constitute a formal decision by us with regards to any planning application and, while 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 submitted which fails to take on board advice given by our officers, we may refuse it without further discussion.

Freedom of information

Under the Freedom of Information Act, we may be asked to provide information regarding inquiries for pre-application advice and copies of any correspondence or advice provided. 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 is at our discretion whether information can be treated as exempt from disclosure and it should be recognised that the point of the legislation is to make information accessible unless there is a pressing reason not to. 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.