All planning applications follow the same process. More complex (13 or 16 week) applications take longer as there are often more issues. Please note lawful development certificates follow a slightly different process, contact us for more details.
You will see from the stages below a decision on a planning application is not possible any quicker than 5 weeks due to process required.
Stage 1: Registration (this can take up to a week).
The Council will check in the first few days if all the relevant documentation and plans have been provided. The Council should provide a validation checklist stating what needs to be submitted.
If you do not provide the correct documents or fee, your application will be returned as invalid. The Council will write to you saying what needs to be completed or provided. An invalid application results in a delay that could have been avoided.
The Council will also scan your documents for use electronically and make up a file for your application. Your plans and documents may be available to view online depending on the Council.
Stage 2:Notifications (28 days/ 4 weeks)
After the planning application is registered the Council will notify all the relevant neighbours and relevant statutory organisations. Every neighbour that shares a boundary with the application site is notified at a minimum. The Town or Parish Council will be notified if you have one in your area. Any statutory organisation that is relevant will also be notified of your application and asked to comment, such as the Environment Agency in flood areas. Neighbours are given 21 days to comment, statutory bodies 28 days.
Stage 3: Site Inspection (up to 1 hour)
An Officer will visit the site to check the accuracy of the plans and to assess the surroundings. This will usually be quite brief and is a fact finding visit. It is rare for any discussion around the application at site inspection stage. Only the exterior of the site and buildings is looked at for planning purposes. Internal viewing may be required for a Listed Building application. Usually an inspection can occur unaccompanied, access to the site or property is all that is required. It is also common for notes and photos to be taken.
Stage 4: Officer Reporting
The Case Officer will assess the application in a report. Usually brief, the reports sets out a description of the site and proposals, the relevant policies and assesses the merits of the application against the policies. Any comments or objections raised will also be considered and assessed if they have valid planning grounds. The Officer will then make a recommendation on whether to approve or refuse the scheme.
Stage 5: Decision
The planning application, file notes, photos and Officers report will be assessed and a decision will be issued in one of two ways:
1) Delegated Decision - Councils make around 90% of decisions in this way. Two Officers (one is usually manager or director level) will review the application file, photos and Officers report and counter sign if they agree with the recommendations made. Then the decision is issued. At this stage the senior Officers can also amend the decision, the Officer's report or any planning conditions.
2) Committee Decision - A small percentage of applications go to Planning Committee for decision. The Officer's report will be placed on an agenda and decided by a committee made up of local Councillors. The committee makes a decision on a majority basis, not all Councillors have to agree.
At the committee the presenting Officer will outline the planning application and the recommended decision. Then a person is allowed to speak on your behalf, an objector is allowed to speak and some Councils allow the Town or Parish Council to speak as well. The Councillors will then discuss the application and propose a decision. A vote is then taken. Councillors are allowed to approve, refuse or defer an application. Deferral allows an application to be postponed while more information or specific revisions are requested.
Stage 6: Finalising decision
The application file is passed to admin where the relevant letters and notices are sent out. The planning consent notice is called a decision notice.
Always ensure you have a full copy of your decision notice. The Decision Notice provides details of what conditions may apply to you keeping your planning permission or will provide full details of why an application has been refused.