We're changing how we process planning applications to make our service more efficient. This includes limiting the time taken to determine planning applications, and reducing the use of extension of time agreements.
The best way to do this is by ensuring applicants and agents submit applications which have a good chance of being approved.
We make planning decisions in line with our local policy framework, unless there are material planning considerations which clearly go against it. The framework, which includes Local Plan policies, guidance documents, and neighbourhood plans, is available online.
In most cases, the framework will give enough information about what we'll look at when we're considering a scheme. You should therefore take these policies and guidance documents into account when you're designing a scheme.
We also encourage you to use our pre-application planning advice service to get in-depth guidance specific to your scheme. This can help speed up the planning process.
By using the policies and guidance available online, as well as pre-application advice, you can get a good idea of how likely we'll be to approve your scheme.
We will no longer get involved in lengthy discussions about schemes at the application stage. We expect applicants and agents to submit schemes which comply with planning policy and meet best practice and design guidance.
What this means for applicants and agents
If you submit a planning application
- without getting pre-application advice
- which does not comply with planning policy
- which does not meet best practice and design guidance
then we're likely to make a decision on the application as it is, and you will not have the chance to make any changes. It's likely that we will not grant planning permission.
You'll still have the option to re-submit your application, after making changes to meet policy and guidance. However, there is no longer a 'free go' for planning applications determined after 6 December 2023. This means you'll need to pay to re-submit the application.
You'll also be able to appeal against our decision.
If your scheme only needs minor changes to meet requirements, the case officer will contact you to request the changes. But there will be a shorter timeframe for making the changes than in the past. We may also need an extension of time agreement to determine the application. If you refuse or delay agreeing to an extension of time, we may reject your planning application. This is because we'll have to assess the application as it is (without any changes) so we can make a decision in the required amount of time.
We'll deal with larger, more complex schemes in a similar way, but we understand that several sets of changes may be needed if there are a range of issues. However, it's likely that we'll only hold applications open if the planned changes will address the majority of the issues.
If your application has significant issues, we will not allow you to re-submit it numerous times if you only make minor changes each time. In most cases, we'll only offer you one chance to amend the application before we make a decision.
The government expects the development industry to provide high-quality design, and for local planning authorities to ensure this is achieved. We therefore expect schemes to be high-quality, well-designed developments which will make a positive contribution to the town. We will not support poor-quality design and development proposals which will have a negative impact.
This is the result of changes to performance measures and the way applications are processed, which were introduced by the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023.