Receipt of a planning application
Once an application has been submitted and we have received the relevant validation information the application will be allocated to a case officer. The agent (or applicant if there is no agent) will receive an acknowledgement email from us with the case officer and decision expiry information. This will usually set out a request for you to provide current photographs of the site and the surroundings. The application type will decide how the application is processed and the time frame in which a decision is issued; usually 8 weeks for minor developments and 13 weeks for major developments.
Consulting on a planning application
After we validate a planning application it may be subject to a statutory 21 day consultation process, so that interested parties (such as neighbours or statutory consultees like Transport for London) can review a planning application for any risks or impact on the surrounding area. We will publicise the application as a letter notification to adjoining neighbours, and where it is appropriate, a site notice, an advert in local papers, or a combination of these.
Assessing a planning application
Once the consultation period has ended, the case officer will review the application, and if necessary visit the site. They will then undertake an assessment of the site characteristics and the proposals effect on the surrounding area. The case officer will take into consideration planning legislation, the Council’s Local Plan policies, Government guidance, neighbour/interested party comments and any recent decisions or appeal decisions.
Amendments to planning applications
Applications will in general be assessed on the basis that they are submitted. For this reason, the seeking of pre-application advice is strongly encouraged, and where this does not occur, proper regard should be had to the relevant planning policy and guidance available.
In instances where pre-application advice was obtained, amendments to applications may be sought in order to make it acceptable. In this circumstance, the applicant will be invited to make that change. To provide certainty as to how amendments will be considered, officers will:
- Not seek to negotiate on matters of detail where the development is considered unacceptable in principle.
- Only request or invite amendments that are minor, and able to be clearly identified and defined. We will not enter potentially open-ended negotiations, or where subsequent revisions are likely to become necessary.
- Seek changes that reduce the impact of the development, where re-consultation will generally not be necessary. In limited circumstances, at the discretion of officers, a change requiring re-consultation may be sought.
- Clearly set out what change needs to be made, and explain why that change is necessary.
- Set a suitable time limit for the submission of amended plans and request an extension of time for determining the application thereafter if necessary.
- Provide one opportunity for amendments to be made before reaching our decision.
Making a decision
We make decisions about planning applications in two ways:
- Using powers delegated by Councillors - officers use powers delegated to them by Councillors, meaning they can make a decision, as long as the development falls within certain sizes or types. In these cases, the case officer will prepare a report on the application, with a recommendation on whether to approve or refuse it. A senior officer then considers and agrees the recommendation, if appropriate. The majority of applications are considered in this way.
- In Planning Committee meetings - where an application receives 3 or more objections the Council’s scheme of delegation requires it be discussed with the Chair of Planning Committee to determine whether a delegated decision or Planning Committee is appropriate. If the decision on a planning application has to be made by Councillors at Committee then a report is prepared and published in the meeting's agenda. The Planning Committee generally deals with applications of a strategic nature.
The report Councillors receive contains a recommendation on whether to approve or refuse the application and the reasons why. Councillors can accept the recommendation or decide to take a different decision if they have a good planning reason to do so.
If an application is scheduled to be considered by the Committee, the applicant/agent will receive an email notification as will anyone who made a representation. The meeting is open to the public (including applicants, agents, supporters and objectors) and those with an interest in an application can apply to speak at the meeting. Details of how to do this will be provided in the notification email.
Being notified of a decision
Once a decision is made, either by officers or Councillors, a formal decision notice confirming the decision will be sent to the agent only (or applicant is there is no agent). An exception to this is where a larger house extension Prior Approval permission is given as “Prior Approval not Required” when no objections from neighbours have been made - however this approval will be stated on the online application record once a decision has been taken.
If the application is refused, the reasons will be given and the appeal process explained.
If the application is approved it may contain 'conditions' that you need to comply with. Conditions may need to be met before work begins on site, during construction works, or after the development is completed. Some conditions will also need to be 'discharged' (this will be detailed in the condition wording) these types of planning applications will require a follow-up application to be submitted.
A copy of the decision notice will also be published online on the application record. We will not send a copy of the decision notice to neighbours or interested parties.