Planning permission

When is planning permission needed?

Planning permission is required for most forms of development. "Development" is defined in Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as follows:

"The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land."

Certain works, e.g. internal alterations, and those which do not materially change the external appearance of a building have, are excluded from the meaning of "development". Other works of a minor nature and some material changes of use can be carried out as "permitted development" by virtue of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (As Amended). This provision most commonly applies to extensions to dwellings and industrial buildings. There are currently over thirty classes of "permitted development". Some kinds of "permitted development" need prior notification to us before the works can be carried out, e.g. agricultural buildings and telecommunication equipment.

Applications affecting Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas and for the display of advertisements are dealt with under separate legislation and regulations.

If you are in any doubt as to whether planning permission is required, the Local Planning Authority operates a Pre-application advice enquiry service to establish whether or not a development would need permission and/ or be considered acceptable, this would be considered. The Planning Portal also offers general advice as to when planning permission may be required.

Types of planning applications

There are three principal kinds of planning applications - full, outline and reserved matters.

Full application

This describes both the uses proposed and the manner in which the development is to be carried out, i.e. materials, design, access and layout details. Full permissions normally last for three years. All applications for a change of use, by definition, are full applications.

Outline application

This is used to establish the general principle of a particular kind of development on a site. Outline permission normally lasts for three years but cannot be acted upon until full details have been approved under a subsequent "reserved matters" application. When an outline application is made the applicant can choose whether to seek approval of any of five "reserved matters" or whether to leave them all for subsequent approval. The five "reserved matters" are:

  • Layout – the way in which buildings, routes and open spaces are provided within the development and their relationship to buildings and spaces outside the development
  • Scale – the height, width and length of each building proposed in relation to its surroundings
  • Appearance – the aspects of a building or place which determine the visual impression it makes, excluding the external built form of the development
  • Access – this covers accessibility to and within the site for vehicles, cycles and pedestrians in terms of the positioning and treatment of access and circulation routes and how these fit into the surrounding access network
  • Landscaping – this is the treatment of private and public space to enhance or protect the site's amenity through hard and soft measures, for example, through planting of trees or hedges or screening by fences or walls.

With an application for outline planning permission detailed consideration will always be required on the use and amount of development. In addition, even if layout, scale and access are reserved, an application will still require a basic level of information on these issues in the application. As a minimum, therefore, applications should always include information on:

  • Use – the use or uses proposed for the development and any distinct development zones within the site identified
  • Amount of development – the amount of development proposed for each use
  • Indicative layout – an indicative layout with separate development zones proposed within the site boundary where appropriate
  • Scale parameters – an indication of the upper and lower limits for height, width and length of each building within the site boundary
  • Indicative access points – an area or areas in which the access point or points to the site will be situated

The District Council decides within the first 28 days of considering an outline application, that some or all of the details are required at that stage - perhaps on a particularly sensitive site - the Authority can hold the application in abeyance until such details are submitted. This is our policy in Conservation Areas.

Reserved matters application

This is a submission for approval of details following an outline approval, and cannot be treated in the same way as an application for planning permission. In other words, it is not open for the Local Planning Authority to consider matters, in principle, that should have been considered earlier, and any conditions may only be appropriate to the matters "reserved" for later approval.

Advice before you make an application

We welcome and encourage discussions before you submit your planning application. Through prior discussions we will be able to identify issues which you may need to take into account prior to submission and therefore improving the application process. However, if you wish to discuss specific proposals you are advised to seek guidance through the pre-application advice process. Find further information on the pre application process.

It is important that you provide accurate drawings to support your application with sufficient detail to a recognisable scale. All drawings should be scaled in metric and not imperial measurements. It may also be of assistance to make any affected parties aware of the fact that you intend to submit a planning application. The Planning Aid Service provides free, independent and professional town planning advice and support for local communities and individuals.

Please be aware that applications for development requiring planning permission may need to be accompanied by information to demonstrate that no adverse impacts on wildlife, including protected and priority species and designated sites will result. UK Partnership for Biodiversity and Planning has released a free pre-application tool – the ‘Wildlife Assessment Tool’. This is designed to help those who may be less aware of biodiversity legislation and their responsibility to consider protected and priority species, as well as statutory designated sites that may be impacted by new development. This tool will help highlight where professional ecological advice and surveys will be required to help avoid an application for planning permission being refused on the basis of a lack of such information being submitted. Here is a link to the Biodiversity and Planning tool.

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