The application process
You can also see the following information as a flowchart.
- Registration and validation
- Site visit
Registration and validation
When you make an application, we register it and give it a number. We will quote that number when we contact you.
The case officer then checks that the application includes all of the information we need. We aim to complete this check as quickly as possible, however times scales do vary depending on workload and may take up to 2 weeks.
If there is anything missing, the officer asks the applicant or their agent to provide it. The application process stops until we receive the missing items.
When dealing with planning matters, our members and officers must follow Protocol.
Once we have the information we need, we write to any property sharing a boundary with the application site, including those opposite. We often post a site notice too.
We consult our councillors and the parish council on every application. For some applications, we get advice from experts like Staffordshire Highways or Historic England. We have to advertise others in the Express & Star.
You can view the documents, plans and comments for any recent application on Public Access.
Paper copies of application documents are available for a fee.
Everyone we write to has at least 21 days to get back to us. We cannot make a decision before the end of that period.
If comments are received after the consultation expiry date, we cannot guarantee that they will be taken into account when the application is determined.
Find out more about your comments and the planning process.
The case officer visits the site as soon as possible to check that the plans are right and the proposal is acceptable. Neighbours can ask the officer to look at the site from their property too.
If something needs changing, we may ask the applicant or agent for new plans. If the changes are significant, we will consult the relevant people again.
Members and officers must follow the Code of Practice for site visits.
When the consultations and negotiations have finished, the case officer writes a report about the proposal. In the report, the officer:
- addresses any comments people might have made;
- checks the proposal against our policies;
- finds the most important points for and against the proposal (the 'material considerations');
- decides how important each point is (its 'weight'); and
- recommends approval or refusal, depending on which side 'weighs' the most.
We make decisions in one of two ways. For simpler applications, a senior officer checks the report and signs off the decision. We call this a ‘delegated' decision.
Your Planning Committee determines the remaining applications. The Committee comprises almost all of the district councillors you elect. They meet in the Council Chamber at our offices every fourth Tuesday, starting at 6.30 p.m. Five working days before the meeting, we publish the agenda, which includes all of the case officers' reports.
You are welcome at any Planning Committee meeting. If an application you have submitted or commented upon goes to Committee, you will have the opportunity to speak for or against the proposal at the meeting. We will contact you with more details at least six working days before the meeting.
Whether it is a senior officer or the councillors who decide, we issue most decisions within:
- six to eight weeks for domestic extensions;
- eight weeks for minor applications; and
- 12 weeks for major applications.
We issue the decision as soon as possible after we make it. If you have written to us about an application, we will let you know the decision at the same time as we tell the applicant. When we have made our decision, you will find it on the Planning Document Viewer.
The permission lists any conditions we have had to apply to make the proposal acceptable. Some conditions specify the use of the development, while others ask for more detail on an aspect of the proposal. You may need to supply these details before you start work, so read your planning permission carefully!
To submit details, or for our confirmation that you have complied with one or more conditions, you can apply to 'discharge' them. You can apply online or download an application form. You will need to pay a fee.
We know that it can be tempting to order materials or hire builders as soon as it seems likely that we will grant permission. However, you should always wait until you receive the permission itself.
When we refuse an application, we explain why on the refusal notice. The report goes into more detail. If you feel that you can change the proposal to make it acceptable, you can discuss it with the case officer. If you submit the new plans within a year of the decision date, your second application is free.
The applicant can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if we refuse their application, or impose a condition they think unjustified. When we learn of an appeal, we forward all documents, plans and comments to the Planning Inspectorate.
We will usually write to invite further comments and provide more information at that stage. However, the Inspectorate does not accept extra comments on most appeals for domestic extensions.
Only the applicant can appeal against a planning decision. As a neighbour, you cannot appeal if we approve something you do not like. However, you may be able to exercise your rights under other laws, such as the Party Wall Act. We recommend that you seek independent legal advice.
If you think that we made a mistake in the way we handled the application, you can use our complaints procedure to let us know. We cannot change the decision after we have made it, however. The only way to change a planning decision is to seek a judicial review (JR). Strict time limits apply, and again, you will need independent legal advice.