Your comments and the planning process
Before you get in touch, please look at the application's plans and documents. You can find them on our Planning Document Viewer. If you need help to view the application, or have any questions once you have done so, please let us know.
- What should you tell us about?
- What can't we take into account?
- What do we do with your comments?
- What we do when we get new plans?
- How can you track the progress of an application?
- How and when do we make our decision?
What you should tell us about
Planning officers must make their decisions based on local and national planning policy, and nothing else. The point of these policies is to ensure that development is in the 'public interest'. By ‘public interest', we mean that the development's benefits would outweigh its harms. By 'benefit' and 'harm', we mean lasting, objective effects.
As such, your comment should focus on those effects. For example, you might tell us about:
- loss of light;
- development density;
- traffic; or
- harm to trees and/or wildlife.
What we cannot take into account
On the other hand, planning officers cannot base their decisions on subjective or temporary effects. Some effects might concern the public interest, but be controlled by laws and policies outside the planning system. Factors we cannot (or can only in very specific circumstances) take into account include:
- property values;
- minor disruption during construction work;
- technical construction details;
- loss of views over land you don't own;
- the behaviour or character of anyone involved;
- commercial competition; and
- boundary disputes.
We know that these factors can be extremely important to residents, and you are welcome to tell us about them. However, please bear in mind that they are unlikely to affect our decision.
What we do with your comments
We will read any comments we receive before the case officer completes his/her report. At the very least, the case officer will respond to your comments in the report and/or by contacting you directly. Where necessary, we will seek changes to the proposal to address your concerns. If the necessary changes are not possible, we may refuse planning permission.
To be sure you get your say, please get back to us before the consultation expiry date. You can find this date on Public Access, the neighbour letter and the site notice. Where there is more than one expiry date, the later date applies.
Anything you send us will be available to the public, unless you specifically tell us to keep it confidential. The case officer will not refer directly to confidential comments in the report. For your peace of mind, please do not include any personal information that is not immediately relevant to your comments.
If we receive new plans
Sometimes we get new plans during the application process. If the difference is significant, addresses your concerns and/or changes how the development will affect you, we will contact you.
How you can track the progress of an application
You can follow applications on Public Access,. Here you will find important names, dates and contact details. You can also see any comments we receive from consultees, including neighbours.
How and when we make our decision
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.