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You are here:home > Environment > Planning services > Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

The questions we get asked most frequently about the planning process are listed below.

Frequently asked questions

1. What type of work requires planning permission?

New buildings, major alterations or enlargement of existing buildings and changes in use of buildings and land is defined as development, and will normally require planning permission. Before any work or change in use is undertaken you are advised to contact the Planning and Development Control service for advice using the contact details at the bottom of this page.

Some house alterations, minor extensions, and telecommunication developments benefit from these rights which mean that planning permission is granted by national legislation without the need to apply to the council. However, you should always check with the council’s building control service to see whether the works you wish to undertake need to comply with the Building Regulations. Many alterations need to comply with the Building Regulations even though they do not need planning permission. Visit our ‘Do I need planning permission’ page for further information.

2. What planning restrictions apply to operating my business from home?

Planning permission is necessary for a wide range of development, including relatively minor alterations that may affect the appearance or use of buildings. To find out how planning restrictions affect the operation of your business from home, follow the link at the bottom of the page to the Planning Portal website or the Business Link website.

3. Where can I get planning advice?

Advice on planning is available from many different sources; Government web sites  this web site, leaflets and information available at Gateway Reception in One Guildhall Square, the Duty Planning Officer or by telephone, letter and Email. Visit out ‘Duty planning officer and pre-application advice’ page for further information.

4. Where is the Planning Office?

The Planning Office is located in the Gateway one stop shop reception area, One Guildhall Square and is opposite the Civic Centre in West Marlands.

Please see the  Gateway location plan that is available by clicking on the link

5. When is the Planning Office open?

Opening times:

  • Monday, Tuesday and Friday: 8.30am -5.30pm

  • Wednesday: 9.30am - 5.30pm

  • Thursday: 8.30am - 7pm

    Please note we are closed on all statutory bank holidays.

Our busiest days are Mondays or the day after a bank holiday. The lunch period, between 12 noon and 2.00pm may also be busy.

6. What does submitting an application involve?

You can submit a planning application using several different methods. By post, send the application with all relevant documents and correct fee to the contact address below. If you are unsure about the documents required or the fee to pay, please call the enquiry line using the contact details at the bottom of the page.

You can go to the Planning Portal website where you can submit a planning application online including card payment and associated documentation.

In the majority of cases this will involve the submission of scaled drawings, application forms and an appropriate fee. We ask for a minimum of 3 copies if you are submitting a paper application, but only 1 copy if submitted electronically.  We ask for 3 copies because we make the application available to a number of people or departments. For example we keep a copy available for the public inspection, and we may consult experts such as Highway Engineers, Water Services Providers etc.

A planning technician or duty officer is available during office hours to help you fill in the forms and check that the application is complete. If you require an appointment you can telephone the Gateway Offices. The number for appointments is 023 8083 2166.

Alternatively you can e-mail using the following address: and they will confirm this appointment within one working day.

If you decide to employ someone to act as your agent to deal with your application, all correspondence regarding the application will be sent to them. However, there is no legal requirement for an agent, it is simply a personal choice.

Visit our ‘Submit an application online or by post’ page for further information. 

7. What happens to a planning application?

Once we have received an application, it will go through a number of processes:-
It is registered and checked to ensure it is fully and properly completed, and that it contains all documentation required, the correct fee has been paid and there is a signed completed ownership certificate.

An advertisement is placed in the local newspaper, and site notices posted in appropriate places.

Consultations that have a 21 day expiry period are carried out with various local and national bodies, the consultees vary depending on the type of application that is submitted, amenity groups, community action forums, other sections of the Council; other people affected by the application, (like occupiers of neighbouring properties).

The site will be visited by a planning officer, who will contact you if more information or amendments are considered advisable.

The application is then considered, taking into account relevant Council policies and any past history or decisions on that site for similar applications.

Finally, the application will either go to a Council Planning and Rights of Way Panel or be considered by the Chief Officer responsible for planning matters. After the Panel or Chief Officer’s decision, depending on the outcome, the applicant, or the Agent if you have employed one, will receive a copy of the application and the decision that has been made.

Visit our ‘Information on the planning application process’ page for further information.

8. Can I be kept informed of progress and decision on an application?

We are currently developing our systems so that in future, you will be able to be kept informed on the progress of planning applications. In the meantime, you can check the status of planning applications through our Public Access database. To do this, please visit the page ‘View planning applications online’ by following the link at the bottom of this page.

9. Can I view the detailed planning applications around a certain area?

Our Public Access online planning database provides you with the ability to view general information regarding planning applications including all supporting plans and documentation. Applications can be searched for in a number of ways including by map view. To do this, please visit the page ‘View planning applications online’ by following the link at the bottom of this page.

10. What is the Planning and Rights of Way Panel and are all applications decided this way?

The Panel that decides planning applications is called the Planning and Rights of Way Panel and meets approximately every two weeks on a Tuesday. (Please contact the planning office using the details below for dates of panel meetings). Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Usually only the more complex or controversial applications are referred to the Committee. However any Councillor may request that an application is decided this way. You may therefore wish to make your views known to your Councillor as well as the Planning Department. Councillor names and addresses can be obtained from this web site. In certain circumstances members of the public are allowed to address the committee. Your views should therefore be put in writing before the meeting so they can be taken into account.

Visit our ‘Planning and rights of way panel’ pages for further information.

Applications not decided by the Planning and Rights of Way Committee are dealt with under powers delegated to the Development Control Manager (Chief Officer). This means that the manager makes the decision on many applications with help from the other planning staff. This helps to speed up the overall process.

11. How do I comment on or object to an application?

If you want to make comments which will be taken into account in determining an application they must be submitted either via the Public Access online planning applications database or in writing.

You will normally have 21 days in which to comment. If the date in which comments are to be received by has expired, the online system will not allow you to submit comments.

Alternatively you can comment in writing (within the 21 days) to the address shown below

Please note: It is very important that you include the application reference number as well as your name, address and postcode on all online & paper comments. We won't be able to consider your comments if you leave this information off.

We will send a letter of receipt of all representations by Royal Mail

Your comments will not be shown on line, however they are a public document and are part of the documentation for the planning application.

You can also find the planning applications nearest to your property using the online map service

You may also wish to contact your local ward councillor to give your views on a planning application

Loss of privacy
Loss of light
Car parking
Noise and disturbance
Character of the area
Traffic generation
Conservation area

Do not include: 
house values
Loss of view
Personal disagreements
Boundary disputes

12. What happens after the decision is made?

If planning permission is granted, objectors do not have a right to appeal against the decision. If the application is refused, only the person who has made the application has the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate who will investigate and make a final decision based on their findings.

Applicants can appeal against a refusal of permission, a condition of a planning permission, or against non-determination, (if the Council has failed to make a decision within the processing period following the validation of the application, which is 8 weeks for a minor application and 13 weeks for a major).

Visit our ‘general guidance on appeals’ page for further information.

13. How to I report unauthorised developments?

Unauthorised development not only covers new buildings, but also changes of use, advertisements, or work to listed buildings. If you think that an unauthorised development has taken place, please let us know. We will investigate your complaint and report back to you on what we find as the investigation progresses. We also promise strict confidence in our dealings with you when you provide us with information as part of an enforcement investigation.

Please visit our ‘Planning Enforcement’ page for further information.

Downloadable documents

Icon Name of file Size Download time
PDF document Planning permission: A guide to businesses 1359 KB 5secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Gateway location plan 1097 KB 4secs @ 2Mbps
Link to download Adobe Acrobat if required

Contact information