Our service standards for planning applications

How long we are likely to take to decide on your planning application and the service standards we offer.

Major planning applications

We aim to make a decision on at least 60 per cent of applications for major developments within 13 weeks.

A major application involves:

  • Residential development for ten or more homes, or for an application site of 0.5 hectares or more
  • Other development proposals for 1000 square metres of floor space or more, or an application site of one hectare or more

Minor planning applications

We aim to make a decision on at least 65 per cent of minor planning applications within eight weeks.

All other planning applications

We aim to make a decision on at least 80 per cent of all other planning applications within eight weeks.

Pre-application discussions: asking for information and advice

We encourage applicants to discuss their proposals before making a formal application so that we can help them to get their application right.

Informal advice for householders on planning permission

We will provide general advice to households on the need for planning permission during normal office hours.

Site specific planning advice

We encourage potential applicants or developers to speak to one of our planning officers before visiting the council offices to discuss a development scheme. You can find out more on our Pre-application advice page.

  • If you write to us, we will reply within ten working days
  • If you telephone us and we cannot deal with you immediately, we will return your call by the end of the following working day. But, we cannot give site specific pre-application advice by telephone

Information and advice we can offer

We will give you accurate and objective advice and information, but we will give it in good faith and without prejudice to the formal consideration of the application.

This will include information on relevant planning policies, past decisions and our standards on things like design or highway requirements. Where possible, we will advise you on the merits of an application, without prejudice to the final decision on it.

You may take a note of the advice we give at the meeting. We will treat all discussions in confidence.

For more complex development proposals, we will set up a development team of relevant officers.

Submitting a planning application

We can help you submit a planning application during office hours.

We will help you:

  • Fill in the forms
  • get an Ordnance Survey plan
  • calculate the correct fee

We check each application and make sure it meets all the requirements. If valid, we will register it and send you a receipt of the application and fee. We will tell you the name and telephone number of the case officer and the target date for a decision.

If you appoint an agent or advisor, we will only deal with them in correspondence and discussions.

If your planning application is not complete

If the application is not complete, we will contact you or your agent and advise you what you need to do to complete it. We cannot process the application until it is valid for registration.

If you do not address the matters raised within three weeks, we will return your planning application to you or your agent.

If you don't need planning permission

If, after you have applied for planning permission, we decide you don't need it, we will return your application and refund your fee.

Dealing with your planning application

Once we have registered your application, we will assign a case officer who will be responsible for processing the application. The case officer will visit the site early on, but we will not normally tell you of this visit unless there is restricted access to it. If so, we will contact you and make an appointment.

 If we need any further information to understand the proposals, for example after we have received comments on the application from others, we will advise you in writing. We will give you a time limit for returning this information - usually 14 days.

Please ask us if you want to know the progress of your application. If we cannot deal with it by the target date, we will explain why and ask for your agreement to extend the time needed.

If your proposal is unacceptable

If you could amend it

If we think that you could amend it to make it acceptable, we will suggest this to you. If you amend it, we might need more time to make a decision. We might also need to re-notify neighbours and other consultees.

We will not support a process of continuing amendments to an application, which delays the decision-making process. We also not normally agree to defer the application unless we think you can amend it satisfactorily.

Other cases

We will not normally enter into discussions if:

  • The proposal is unacceptable in principle
  • You would need a completely new design to overcome objections
  • You have chosen not to follow our pre-application advice
  • You did not ask us for pre-application advice
  • The development does not comply with our planning policies

Information and consultation on planning applications

We publish information weekly about planning applications and publicise them on our website, in the local press and with site notices.

We will give anyone we write to about the application at least 21 days to comment on it and we will advise how to do so.

We will provide help during office hours to anyone who wants more information and advice or to comment on a planning application.

If there are significant amendments to the application, we will re-notify neighbours where appropriate and allow at least seven days for comment.

Dealing with comments on planning applications

Anyone can comment on a planning application, but for the comments to be 'material' and able to influence any decision, they must be based on legitimate planning reasons.

We will not take into account objections that are not specific or based on proper planning considerations.

We will accept pre-printed letters and petitions.

For more details, see our How to comment on a planning application page.

We will not consider anonymous comments.

We will provide a summary of all the comments we receive on a planning application in the report to the Development Management Committee and explain their relevance to the application. We will also make copies of the original letters available for the councillors.

If we receive your comments late, we may not be able to take them into account. We have a formally adopted policy on dealing with late comments. If you want to know more, please contact our Planning team using the contact details on this page.

 If your comments arrive after we have drafted the report for the committee, we will report them orally and we will record them in the committee minutes.

Unless you ask us, we will not acknowledge receipt of your comments. We will write and tell you what the decision is.

Making planning decisions

We make a decision on a planning application in one of two ways:

  • Our Head of Planning will decide on straightforward, small-scale applications with no objections through our pdf icon Scheme of Delegation [18kb]. This sets out clear guidelines to follow
  • Our Development Management Committee will decide on more complex and potentially controversial applications, including those who conflict with our planning policies or where there have been lots of objections. We will make details of the Development Management Committee agenda and reports available at least three working days before the meeting

Once we have made a final decision, we will issue a decision notice to you or your agent. We will set out any conditions, reasons for refusal or extra information and explain how to appeal against the decision or any conditions attached to it.

If we cannot make a decision until you have completed a planning obligation (a form of legal agreement), we will tell you as soon as possible and explain what needs to be done and any costs involved.

You should not start work on site until we have provided a formal decision notice and you have addressed any conditions that need further submissions.

Approving details of a planning application

After we have granted permission, you may need to submit further details for approval, as set out in the conditions.

Where we need to agree the details before you can start work on site, you will have to submit a formal application for approval of details.

In these cases, we will deal with applications as quickly as possible, although more complex issues, such as landscape schemes, may take more time.  Starting a development on site without first obtaining the necessary approvals required by planning conditions, is a breach of planning control and could result in enforcement action.

Changes to approved plans

You must carry out work as set out in the plans we approved and any conditions we set in the decision notice. If you do not, you or the landowner may be in breach of the terms of the planning permission.

If you need to make relatively minor adjustments to the approved plans, you may submit an application for approval of non-material amendment. You must do this as soon as possible and must not do any work until we have approved the changes in writing. This is because we may need to notify your neighbours of the changes.

If you need to make more significant changes, you may need to apply for approval of a material minor amendment or to make a fresh planning application.

We will consider any proposed amendments on their merits and if they are likely to affect any neighbours, we will publicise the changes before making a decision.

Investigating complaints about breaches of planning control

We have a duty to investigate complaints about breaches of planning control and have powers to act if needed. You can find out more on our Local enforcement plan page.

Investigating complaints about our service

We will consider all complaints about the way we have made a planning decision or dealt with comments on an application.

If you disagree with our decision to refuse permission or impose conditions on a planning application, we will not consider this a complaint about our service. Instead we will advise you how you can appeal against the decision.

The quickest way to sort things out is to talk to the case officer. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can contact our Development Management Manager and this still does not sort out the problem, the Head of Planning will investigate your complaint.

Complaining in writing

If you complain in writing, we will acknowledge your complaint within five working days, investigate it fully and let you know what we will do. If we are not proposing to take any action, we will explain why.

Taking the matter further

If you are not happy with the way we have dealt with your complaint, you can complete a comments and complaints form and the Chief Executive will investigate the matter. You can also ask your local councillor for help. You can find out who your local councillor is using our In my area page, or see our list of councillors in Rushmoor.

If you feel that we have not followed the correct procedures you can ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to investigate. The Ombudsman would, however, normally expect you to have followed our formal complaints procedures first.

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