How we make a decision on planning applications

Planning and building control

Most planning applications are dealt with under delegated powers. This is where certain officers within the council have been given the power to decide applications on behalf of the council.

Delegated officers carefully consider the recommendations which are made by the case officer and the decision is agreed and issued by the delegated officer on behalf of the council.

Certain types of applications will be referred to planning committee for a decision (see below).

Planning committee Click to get info

Planning committee is a public meeting which decides whether planning permission should be granted for a planning application.

The committee is made up of five councillors, including a chair, who come from different political parties and wards in the borough.

Committee meetings take place monthly and are held in the town hall.

When is an application referred to planning committee?

Applications are referred to planning committee for a variety of reasons. If the application that's being submitted is a council-owned development, for example a school or council building, then this will normally be automatically referred to planning committee.

How are objectors/supporters informed about planning committee?

Anyone who submits a letter of objection or support is sent an email confirming that their comments have been received. Once a committee date has been set all those who have commented on an application are sent an invitation to the committee meeting at least five days before the date of the committee. The agenda is published one week before the committee meeting.

How are decisions made at committee meetings?

A planning officer will present the application to the committee members and the public. Following this the agent/applicant will be invited to speak for five minutes and then the objector will be allowed to speak for five minutes.

As only one objector is allowed to speak, it will need to be decided before the meeting who will be presenting to the committee. Questions may be asked by members to the presenting planning officer, the applicant and the objector.

Councillors who are not members of the committee are allowed to speak but can only speak under standing orders and they will not be able to vote or influence the decision in any capacity.

Members then discuss whether planning permission should be granted. If the members are not able to make a decision then the application may be deferred to the next planning committee.

Most planning permissions have the following conditions attached:

  • time limit: Almost all permissions have a condition that says the development must be started within a specific timeframe. This is normally three years from the date of permission but can be longer or shorter if there is a good reason. Applications that are for the retention of development already complete, or for a change of use that has already occurred, do not have this condition. Advertising and Listed Building Consent have a different time limit
  • plans and other information: Most permissions have a condition surrounding the plans and other information that the decision to grant permission was based on. This will usually be a list of plan numbers and document names. All the plans and documents that are approved are publicly available on our website or by arranging to come in and see the hard copy file.

The only kind of permission that never has conditions is a Lawful Development Certificate. See the Planning Portal for more information on Lawful Development Certificates.

Other conditions

Conditions can also be attached that require the submission of additional details for us to approve. For example:

  • details of materials that the development is going to be built in (bricks, windows, doors, roofing material)
  • details of refuse and recycling facilities that will be provided
  • details of cycle storage and/or car parking
  • details of landscaping
  • details of ventilation systems for a café/ restaurant.

In addition, conditions may be attached that:

  • restrict opening hours
  • restrict the hours of deliveries
  • restrict the use of the premises.

The more information that can be provided with an application, the less likely it will be that planning conditions requiring the submission of additional information will need to be imposed.


'Informatives' may be added to a permission in order to advise an applicant of certain issues which may be of relevance. For example, reminding you that building regulations still need to be complied with or that a license may be required.

Further information Click to get info

The government’s Planning Portal provides an overview of the decision-making process for planning applications.