Step by step guide to the planning application process

The planning application process can be separated into 6 key stages. The process is largely governed by legislation and is designed to allow the input of expert and interested parties into the decision making process.

Step 1 – Pre-application advice

Before you decide whether to make a planning application or not, we highly recommend that you obtain pre-application planning advice from us.

We will be able to advise you whether your proposal is likely to be approved or not, and can recommend changes to ensure that your planning application has the best chance of success. Find out more information on our pre-application advice service.

Step 2 – Application and validation

We strongly recommend that you apply online through the Planning Portal where you will be advised of the documents you will need to submit and the correct fees, which means that your application is more likely to be validated.

Once submitted, applications are checked to ensure all documents and fees required are correct.

Any missing information will be requested before processing can start. We normally aim to process your application within 8 weeks of receiving a valid planning application so submitting the correct information first time can help avoid delays.

The timescale for major planning applications is 13 weeks.

Step 3 - Consultation and publicity

Consultation letters are sent to neighbours and, where applicable, various bodies to obtain their expert view.

Advertisements, where required, are placed in the appropriate local paper and on site.

Others can view plans and see how to comment on an application online.

The consultations period is 21 days from the date of publishing.

Step 4 – Site visit and assessment

The site is inspected and the application assessed by the planning case officer, taking into account planning policies, consultation responses and public representations.

Where relevant, the planning officer will also gather any site specific information such as photographs.

Step 5 - Recommendation

The planning officer will make a recommendation, via the ‘officers’ report’ on the application to the person or body authorised to make a decision.

Case officers do not make the final decision on applications. The officer’s report will include all of the relevant facts relating to the application in order to inform the decision maker.

Step 6 - Decision

A decision is taken on the application by the appropriate body.

With most householder applications senior officers who have delegated authority from the Planning Committee normally makes the decision under what’s known as ‘delegated powers’.

This means that they can make the decision without going to the relevant committee which speeds the process up.

Around 95 per cent of householder applications are decided this way.

Applications can be approved or refused.

Approved applications will often have conditions attached that must be complied with.

If your application is refused and you do not believe the decision was correct then you do have the right to appeal.

Appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate, an independent government body. It is recommended that you seek professional advice before deciding whether to appeal as this can be an expensive and lengthy process.