Planning application process explained

Planning championThe process of dealing with a planning application, after submission is time consuming, in most cases requiring extensive consultation of statutory bodies and neighbours. It goes through several stages before a decision is made.

Government targets have been set for Local Planning Authorities to deal with applications. These are as follows: 13 weeks for majors and 8 weeks for minors and others.

A simplified version of the process is listed below and you can download an easy to follow process flowchart to aid your understanding too.

1. Registering the application
On receipt of your application we will send an acknowledgement letter and advise you of the application number it has been given. If you have sent us all of the information we need your application will then be made valid.

If your application is invalid (you have not sent us all of the information we need), we will contact you to let you know what additional information we need from you. If this information is not received within the time frame given, it will be returned in the post along with a 25% administration cost taken from the planning fee refund. This applies to all planning applications types.

Note: If the application form includes an agent's contact details all correspondence will be sent to the agent.

2. Allocation to a case officer
Once your application is valid, it will be allocated to a planning officer, who may contact you if they require further clarification of a point or more details to assess the application. Application forms and other supporting documents will also be published on the website at this stage.

3. Consultation and advertisement
We will write to your neighbours and any other individuals, groups and organisations who have an interest in the site. We give neighbours and other groups and organisations 21 days to comment on your application. These comments can be submitted online via Public Access 

We can only make a decision on an application when the consultation period is over.

Any of the consultees can write to us to support or object to your application.

In some instances, the application may be advertised in the free publication Hampshire Independent and/or a site notice may be displayed on or near the site so that the public are made aware of the application.

4. Site visit
The case officer will normally visit the site. They will only contact you or your agent about this visit if they cannot gain access to the site.

5. Negotiation and discussion
Following a visit, if an officer considers that your proposal is not acceptable but that it could be improved, they may contact you or your agent to negotiate changes. If you agree with these changes, you will need to revise your plans and drawings and send them to us again.

However, it is unlikely that we will ask for changes to an application that goes against our planning policies or requires substantial change. If this happens, the case officer may suggest that you withdraw the application before it is refused.

For some applications, you may be required to make an infrastructure contribution to the council - read our guide to developer contributions - the details of which will be set out in a Section 106 legal agreement. However, this should already have been discussed and agreed upon in principle at the pre-application stage.

6. Officer recommendation
The case officer will write a report on your proposal, highlighting every issue they have considered. This will include:
• Consideration of the relevant planning policies
• Observations from the site visit
• Discussions with the applicant and any other relevant parties
• Comments from consultees / interested third parties / neighbours

The report will conclude with the officer recommendation to either approve or refuse your application.

7. Councillor involvement
Some proposals will be reported to the Planning and Rights of Way Panel which is made of local ward councillors. The agendas for the panel is published five working days in advance and the meetings are open to the public to attend. If you have sent in comments on an application you will automatically be sent an invitation to attend.

8. The decision
A decision on your application will then be made by a Planning Team Leader (under delegated powers) for smaller and or non contentious applications or by the Planning and Rights of Way Panel for larger or more controversial applications. Currently, around 90% of applications are determined under delegated powers.

Once this decision has been made, a formal decision letter will be issued to the applicant or agent. In most cases where permission is granted, the decision letter will detail conditions that apply. A reason will be given for each condition. Any reasons for refusing an application will be given as well should that be needed. If you are aggrieved by the decision on your application you may appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, but third parties such as neighbours have no such right of appeal.

9. Discharging the conditions
If permission is granted you should read the decision notice carefully to see if any of the conditions need to be discharged before development can start on site. It is the responsibility of the applicant, or any subsequent developer, to ensure that the terms of all conditions are met in full at the appropriate time.