Planning application process
Where do I start?
Once you have established whether or not you require planning permission, the next stage is to fill in the relevant application form. Application forms are listed on a separate page, some are on this website, while other forms are available on the Planning Portal website. For a list of available online forms, see planning application forms. The forms have guidance notes attached to help you to make your planning application. If you have problems filling in the application form, or do not understand the guidance notes, just contact Development Management.
After submitting the planning application, what happens next?
Once we receive an application, we check it to ensure that it has been completed correctly (with the sufficient and accurate plans and correct fees). When the application is in order, we will send out a formal acknowledgement stating the reference number and a date by which it is hoped that a decision will be made by. We will also enter it on the Register available for public inspection.
How long will it take for a decision to be made?
Our target is to make a decision on at least 80% of all planning applications within 8 weeks of receiving them. We may require more time for larger and more complex/controversial applications.
Who will know about the planning application?
It is our statutory duty to let the public know about planning applications. We do this in a number of ways:
- In most cases, a site notice is displayed
- In certain circumstances, it is advertised in the press (for example, in Conservation areas)
- If considered appropriate, letters are sent to neighbours
We have a statutory consultation period of 21 days from the date of the site notice for any written comments to be submitted. We cannot make a decision on your application until the consultation period has elapsed. We also consult a number of specialist bodies to obtain expert advice on various aspects of the proposed development, depending upon what it is you intend to do, and where you intend to do it. Common consultees are the Highways Authority and the Parish Council. We will take into account all relevant views expressed by interested parties. These must be based on land use considerations, as the planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another.
It is up to you to check the progress of your application. It is advisable to telephone or email the case officer 4 weeks after receiving your validation letter to see if any objections have been received.
How are planning decisions reached?
The planning officer dealing with your application will visit the site and consider any comments received, for example, these may be from objectors and consultees. They may contact you to obtain more information about the proposal, or to suggest alterations to your plans, which will increase your chances of receiving permission. Our main focus is on the application's compliance with planning policy. However, we also take into account material considerations (for example, supplementary planning guidance), site-specific factors, such as access and design, as well as any comments received during the consultation period. We are keen to ensure that all development that takes place is of a high quality. We will reject poor designs which are out of scale, or character, with their surroundings.
We aim to strike a balance between achieving a rapid turn-around of planning applications and public desire to have a greater say in the decision-making process. As a result, there are two ways in which decisions can be made on applications, either through a delegated procedure, or a Committee procedure.
The Council has given delegated powers to the Head of Planning Services to determine planning applications. This is only if the following do not apply:
- Approval would be contrary to policy
- Applications are of a major, controversial, or sensitive nature
- Applications which have aroused significant public interest on valid planning grounds (see below), or an objection from a statutory consultee
- Applications subject to a Parish Council objection on valid planning grounds (see below)
- Applications subject to a request by an objector to address the Planning Application Committee with valid planning grounds (see below)
- Applications requested by a Council Member to go to Committee
- Applications where the recommendation is contrary to that of a statutory undertaker, for example, the Highways Authority
The following are not valid planning grounds:
- Devaluation of property
- Loss of view
- Personal or financial circumstances, or the character of the applicant
- Third party interest
- Some matters covered by other legislation or controls. including Building Regulations and Licensing.
Where delegated powers cannot be used (on applications which are more of a controversial nature), the Planning Committee is the body with the power to make the final decision on whether the application should be approved. Where an application requires significant change before being acceptable, we may give you the opportunity to withdraw the application and resubmit it with revised plans. Usually, no fee will be required for this.
The Planning Committee procedure
See Planning Applications that go to Committee.
Types of planning decisions
There are 3 types of decisions that can be reached: unconditional planning approvals, approvals subject to conditions, and refusals.
Unconditional planning approvals
These are rarely issued and normally relate to specific types of application, for example, Certificates of Lawfulness for Existing Use or Development (CLEUD).
Approval subject to conditions
This is where a planning approval is granted, subject to planning conditions. Typical conditions include a time limit, usually 3 years, within which the proposal must be started, or requirements for building materials, for example, they must match those of the existing building. All conditions have to be justified in terms of their relevance to planning, the development, and their enforceability. On some occasions, a planning agreement between the Planning Authority and the applicant/developer and any other parties with an interest in the land is required. This will be achieved through a Section 106 Agreement or Unilateral Undertaking. For further details, please see the planning obligation guidance.
If an application is refused, reasons have to be stated. Usually these are due to conflicts with Development Plan Policies. For example, a proposal may result in unacceptable overshadowing of a neighbour's living room and garden area. To try to reduce the likelihood of applications being refused, our Development Plan is available for public inspection at both the Town Hall reception and the Mansion House reception, as well as on display at all of the libraries within the district, whilst the case officer is available by appointment for consultation at all stages of the application process.
After the decision
After the decision we will issue a Decision Notice to the applicant. The press will normally report decisions on major proposals. Approximately 92% of all applications are approved within the district. However, if your application has been refused, you can submit a modified plan within 12 months of the original decision, free of charge. If you do not wish to negotiate, you can appeal either against the imposition of a condition/s, or a notice of refusal. Appeals must be made within 6 months of the date of decision. Appeals can take several months to decide. A new procedure specifically for planning applications relating to householder applications now only permits 12 weeks in which to initiate the appeal process. Appeals are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate and original objectors are automatically informed if an appeal has been lodged. See different types of planning permission and appeals on GOV.UK.