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FAQs: The planning application process

Do I need planning permission?

The Planning Portal website contains lots of useful advice, including interactive guides, to help you determine whether you need to apply for planning permission.  For more details, visit The Planning Portal website.

If you are still unsure, you can contact the planning team on 01527 881770.  An Officer is available 10:00am - 2:00pm Monday - Friday.

I have established that I need planning permission, what do I do next?

Advice in relation to submitting a planning application is available here.

A Help Guide to submitting a householder planning application is available here.

Can I submit a planning application myself?

Anyone can make a planning application, however it is usually advised that professional advice and assistance is sought. The skills of an architect/planning consultant can be invaluable in developing ideas and presenting information. You should ensure that the person you are appointing has the relevant experience for the type of development you are proposing. For example, a conservation/heritage specialist would be best suited for conservation and heritage development.

As a Local Authority we are unable to recommend a particular architect or planning consultant, however you can use the following directories to search for professionals in your area:

Architect Register

Heritage Advice Register

Planning Consultancy Register

Please also remember, for a planning application to be processed, it needs to be “valid”.  Information on what makes a "valid" application is available here.

What planning designations/constraints affect my planning application?

Information on which planning designations/constraints affect your site is available here.

You can also speak to a Case Officer to obtain general advice in relation to these matters by telephoning 01527 881770.  If the question is more complex, it may be necessary to submit a formal pre-application enquiry.  This service carries a fee.

How can I submit a pre-application enquiry?

Information in relation to submitting a pre-application enquiry (including the fee schedule) can be found here.

Please note: The planning service is experiencing high levels of demand for pre-application advice and due to this there may be a delay in our assessment and response to these. We will advise you if this is the case. Any potential delay will vary depending on the nature and complexity of the proposal.  Please be assured that Case Officers are working extremely hard to progress these as quickly as possible.

Once my planning application/pre-application enquiry has been submitted, what happens next?

You (or your agent working on your behalf) will receive an initial acknowledgement letter to confirm that we have received your application, however it will likely be 2-3 weeks before your application is picked up by a Case Officer to start work on. In order for us to deal with applications in the best way possible, each application is treated individually. It may be necessary for the Case Officer to contact you or your agent straight away (before registration) to advise that further information/amendments are required, or to explain that the proposed development is something that is unlikely to be successful. In other cases the application will be registered without the need to contact you. Following registration, the Case Officer may carry out a site visit if it is considered necessary.

Who will be informed about the planning application?

It is a statutory duty to let the public know about planning applications. This may be done in a number of ways:

  • Sending letters to adjoining neighbours
  • Displaying a site notice
  • Advertising in the local press

Interested parties and members of the public are usually given 24 days to make comments.

Depending on the nature of the proposed development, a number of specialist bodies will also be consulted in order to obtain expert advice on various aspects of the proposed development.

How are planning applications assessed?

Planning applications are considered on their individual merits and are assessed against national and local planning policy and guidance.  All comments will be taken into account by the Case Officer, provided that they are in relation to planning considerations.  An example list of matters that can and cannot be taken into consideration are listed here. Please note that a decision cannot be made until the consultation period has elapsed.

The Council will seek to obtain the full cost of obtaining external specialist advice from the applicant in connection with relevant pre-application enquiries and formal planning proposals, including the variation of legal agreements.  Prior notification applications subject to the 28 day determination limitation are specifically excluded from this process.

The cost of submitting a pre- application enquiry is set locally through the Council’s annual review of Fees and Charges. This cost seeks to cover Officer time and assists in making the Planning service more cost neutral to the Council as a whole.

In February 2020, this review introduced the concept of recovering other costs associated with the Planning service.  In a limited number of cases the Council will need to obtain external specialist advice in connection with planning queries. Such advice may be needed, for example where the applicant presents a viability case to justify a development approach; where the agricultural need for a development requires consideration; specific advice as to the ecological potential of a site or the urban design credentials of a scheme. This expertise is not always available in-house and in such instances the Council uses a Framework of appointed independent advisors to critically evaluate such proposals.

As of 1 April 2020, the principle of recovering the cost of securing external advice from the applicant has been agreed through the Council's decision-making processes. The benefit of the development is seen by the applicant and thus the principle of the applicant paying these additional and unusual costs is justified. This approach is also in line with other Councils within Worcestershire.

The Council will be responsible for notifying the applicant/agent that this process applies and will seek the applicant’s agreement in principle to pay these costs. The Council will then, using the Framework, secure the relevant advice and pay the external advisor. Once the applicant has reimbursed the Council, the relevant information will be released and the merits of its contents evaluated.

If payment is not received the Council reserves the right to withhold the contents of the obtained advice.  In relation to formal applications, the scheme may be refused on the grounds that the proposal has not been appropriately adjudicated.  The Council may also need to continue to procure advice in order to inform its position. If the scheme is refused and a subsequent appeal is lodged, it may be appropriate for the Council to seek to recover those costs through an appropriate costs claim.

Costs are subject to VAT at the normal rate. Payment should be made to the Council using the invoice number provided. When making a payment it is advised that you also notify the relevant Case Officer accordingly.

What are planning policies?

Planning policies are those policies used by local Councils, the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State when considering applications for development.  There are national planning policies, prepared by the Department for Communities and Local Government and there are local planning policies prepared by the District Council.

Further information on national planning policies and guidance is available here.

Further information on local planning policies and guidance is available here.

Who decides planning applications? 

Decisions on non-major applications would usually be made by the Case Officer under powers delegated to them by the Council.

Larger and more controversial applications are decided by the Planning Committee. Planning Committee meetings take place once a month and are open to the public.  If you make comments on a planning application which is to be decided at Planning Committee, you will be invited to attend.  Further information on the Borough Council's Constitution is available here.

How long will it take for a decision to be made?

The government target for determining planning applications are 8 weeks for non-major development, 13 weeks for major development and 16 weeks for applications accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).  In some cases, however, it may be necessary to extend this period in order to allow enough time to resolve any issues that arise during the determination process.

Please note: Due to the continued high volume of submitted applications, there may be a delay in the assessment and determination of planning applications. It may take longer than the statutory 8 or 13 weeks to determine your application but we will endeavour to determine your application as soon as possible. You may receive a request from the Case Officer to agree to an extended period of time to determine the application as detailed above.

What should I do if my planning application is refused?

If you do not agree with the planning decision you have received you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.  There are differences in the timescale for submitting an appeal according to the application type.  Full details will be given on the Decision Notice issued by the District Council.  You can submit a planning appeal online by visiting the Appeals Casework Portal (managed by the Planning Inspectorate) here.

Further information in relation to the appeal process is available here.

Privacy Notice

We collect, hold and process information supplied by you in accordance with the Data Protection Act, to allow us to provide services effectively.

The Privacy Notice for Development Management relating to the submission of applications is available here.

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