The first step on the flow chart is to contact the Planning Authority for advice prior to the submission of the planning application. All applicants are therefore advised to enter into pre-application discussions with the Planning Authority. There is a fee for this service:
On receipt of an application, the Planning Authority must validate your application to ensure that all the necessary plans, documentation and fee has been received. This is in order to comply with national mandatory requirements and additional local requirements. The following will assist you with ensuring your application is valid:
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. 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 Regulatory normally decides the majority of planning applications, under powers delegated by the Council. 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. 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).
Once the application has been determined, the Planning Authority will send a decision notice to the applicant or agent. 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 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 service prior to re-submission.