Planning application process

The different stages of the planning process.

The government has published a Plain English guide to the planning system. (link is external)

Annex C of this guide explains the 5 stages in the planning application process, listed below:

  1. Submit a planning application
  2. Notification and consultation with community and statutory consultees
  3. Determination of application
  4. Decision
  5. Option to appeal decision 

Before submitting a planning application (stage 1) it is highly advisable to contact the Planning Authority for informal advice on the suitability of your proposal by using the paid Pre-application Advice Service.  

Following completion of the pre-application process and to aid with stage 1 please refer to the guidance contained within the Council’s Local Validation List. This will ensure that your submission contains all the necessary forms, plans, documents, and fee. This is in order to comply with national mandatory requirements and additional local requirements.

Following registration of a valid application the Planning Authority will undertake a statutory consultation period which will include notifying neighbours by letter, may include a press notice and may include notifying local amenity groups and appropriate statutory bodies (stage 2). A minimum period (21 days) is allowed for replies. The Council will consider any valid objection or support to a planning application, even if outside the consultation period as long as that application has not already been decided.

The planning case officer will visit the site prior to determination and on receipt of all consultation responses will draft a report of recommendation.

The Head of Planning normally decides the majority of planning applications, under powers delegated by the Council (stage 3). These delegated powers normally apply to smaller or more straightforward applications. Major or controversial applications tend to go to the Council's Planning Applications Committee (made up of elected councillors) with officer recommendations to these meetings. This Committee is held once a month. The Committee will decide at the meeting whether to approve or refuse the application.

The period of determination for the majority of applications is 8 weeks from receipt of a valid application but some applications may take longer than this including major developments (typically 13 weeks). When an application takes longer than 8 or 13 weeks we will ask the applicant or agent to enter into an extension of time agreement. This will provide a new date beyond the statutory period target date and provides certainty to all parties.

Once the application has been determined, the Planning Authority will send a decision notice to the applicant or agent (stage 4). For most types of application, this will be either an approval, usually with conditions that must be complied with (and the reasons for the imposition of each condition), or a refusal stating why the application was unacceptable.

There is a right of appeal for the applicant to the Planning Inspectorate (link is external) if the application is refused, not decided in 8 weeks or if you disagree with the imposition of conditions. Before opting to appeal a decision it is a good idea to consult with the Planning Officer who dealt with the proposal to see if there is any scope for negotiation and, if changes are feasible, to use the Pre-application Advice Service prior to re-submission.