The Planning Process
Planning ensures that the right development happens in the right place at the right time, benefitting communities and the economy. It plays a critical role in identifying what development is needed and where, what areas need to be protected or enhanced and in assessing whether proposed development is suitable.
The planning application process can be separated into 6 key stages. The process is largely governed by legislation and is designed to allow the input of expert and interested parties into the decision making process.
Step 1 – Pre-application advice
Before you decide whether to make a planning application or not, we highly recommend that you obtain pre-application planning advice from us.
We will be able to advise you whether your proposal is likely to be approved or not, and can recommend changes to ensure that your planning application has the best chance of success. Find out more information on our pre-application advice service.
Step 2 – Application and validation
We strongly recommend that you apply online through the Planning Portal where you will be advised of the documents you will need to submit and the correct fees, which means that your application is more likely to be validated.
Once submitted, applications are checked to ensure all documents and fees required are correct.
Any missing information will be requested before processing can start. We aim to decide most applications within eight weeks of receipt (13 weeks for major applications). In many cases, for more straightforward proposals, this can be between four and six weeks.
You will need to follow the guidance on planning viability assessments for planning applications.
Step 3 - Consultation and publicity
Consultation letters are sent to neighbours and, where applicable, various bodies to obtain their expert view. We allow 24 days for comments to be made before a decision is considered. . Other consultees, such as town and parish councils and government agencies have up to 28 days to make their comments. Comments made relating to matters which are not relevant will be discounted. If it were to do otherwise, it would be acting unlawfully and its decision would be open to challenge in the Courts
What can be considered?
In considering a planning application, the council has a statutory duty to have regard to the provisions of:
- the Local Plan
- any other material considerations
The Local Plan
To the extent that development plan policies are material to an application for planning permission the decision must be taken in accordance with the development plan unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise.
You can view the Local Plan on our website at Local Plan 2030 Adoption.
You may wish to consult them to see if there are any proposals or policies which are relevant to the application/s you are interested in.
Any other material considerations
As well as any relevant provisions of the Development Plan, the Council must take into account "any other material considerations". This means considerations which are relevant to land use planning. Objections to a planning application which reflect on the writer's personal and private interests would normally be discounted. Examples of private interests which tend to be raised in representations but which the council cannot normally take into account are:
- loss of view
- infringement of rights of light
- breach of a covenant attaching to the land
- fear that property may be devalued
- business person's fear trade may be lost to a competitor.
However, it may be that your concern is justified and could legitimately be taken into account if expressed in a different way. For example, whilst a view from a property and rights of light are private issues, it is a matter of public interest that dwellings should have reasonable standards of amenity. It is therefore relevant to consider whether a proposed building or extension would be overbearing in the outlook from a property, whether it would cause unreasonable loss of light and whether one dwelling would be directly and unreasonably overlooked from another.
For your assistance, some other examples of typical material considerations are set out below but this list is by no means exhaustive:
- The effect of a proposal on road safety. Is there a safe access to the site? Would the traffic created by the development cause significant hazards to drivers or pedestrians?
- The potential for a proposed building or use to cause disturbance, including any increased traffic flows, to the neighbours or in the locality
- The impact of a building development on the character of its surroundings. How would a building fit into its setting in terms of its bulk and its scale?
- The effect of a proposal on nature conservations interests
- The effect of a proposal on the character or appearance of a conservation area or on the setting of a listed building
Further guidance is available on the www.gov.uk Alternatively, please speak to the planning officer for the application or a member of the Planning and Development service.
Publication of comments
You should be aware that if you write about an application, the Council is obliged to make your letter available for inspection by the public. This will include its publication on the internet whilst the application or any subsequent appeal is being considered. Publication will include your name and address. This detail is required if we are to take your comments in to account. Your signature, telephone number and e-mail address, if included in your comment, will not be published. Personal data may be retained for up to 3 years and used for further consultation should revised /new applications for the same site be submitted in future. For more information on your rights please see the council’s privacy statement.
Although the council reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments from the web site as necessary, such comments may still be viewable prior to any removal and viewable by visitors to the Civic Centre. It is therefore your sole responsibility to ensure you do not include defamatory remarks in your comments as you could be held legally responsible for them in the future.
Comments on procedural matters/individual officers/elected members
If you wish to question or comment upon the conduct of individual officers or elected Councillors, or upon procedural matters, these should be made via the council's formal complaints procedure and not be included in comments on applications
Advertisements, where required, are placed in the appropriate local paper and on site.
Others can view plans and see how to comment on an application online.
Step 4 – Site visit and assessment
Normally all sites are visited by the case officer in order to assess the merits of the proposals, taking into account planning policies, consultation responses and public representations. Where relevant, the planning officer will also gather any site specific information such as photographs. If any modifications are required, the case officer will negotiate changes with the applicant or their agent. The case officer will then prepare a brief report on the case and will summarise any representations received in making a recommendation.
Step 5 - Recommendation
The planning officer will make a recommendation, via the ‘officers’ report’ on the application to the person or body authorised to make a decision.
Case officers do not make the final decision on applications. The officer’s report will include all of the relevant facts relating to the application in order to inform the decision maker.
Step 6 - Decision
The Council cannot decide planning applications simply as it chooses. It is constrained by law and by precedents set in the Courts about the matters it can legitimately take into account when making its decisions.
We operate two levels of decision making when determining planning applications:
Senior planning officers determine most applications under powers delegated to them by the council. The detail of this is set out in the council Constitution. These include matters such as:
- Minor residential or commercial applications
- Household applications
- Listed building applications
- Advertisement applications
- Applications for works to protected tree.
The decision notice will then normally be dispatched on the same day or the following day.
The Planning Committee meets on a four weekly cycle. Applications considered are those...
- involving major and strategic planning matters, such as housing development and large retail schemes
- Applications that raise particularly sensitive issues
- Applications that the ward member has requested be considered by the committee
All applications are reported with a recommendation made by the Development Control Manager or Strategic Sites and Design Manager. The members of the Planning Committee can decide to make a different decision or defer the matter for more information or for a site visit. The meetings are open to applicants and members of the public have an opportunity to speak on applications being considered by that Committee.
Planning committee agendas, reports and minutes are available on the planning committee page.
What happens after a decision is made?
We will normally issue a delegated decision on the day it is made and email a copy to you or your agent if you have used one. Planning committee decisions are usually issued as soon as possible after the committee unless the committee has decided that other things need to be completed first, such as any agreements under s106 of the planning act. We will also notify all those people who contacted us about the application.
If your application is refused and you do not believe the decision was correct then you do have the right right to appeal.
Appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate, an independent government body. It is recommended that you seek professional advice before deciding whether to appeal as this can be an expensive and lengthy process
More information is available on our Contact Us page.