What happens to your application
Covid-19 Lockdown Period Service Update
The Planning Department is continuing to operate and process planning applications during the lockdown period.
For the quickest service, electronic submissions and online payment routes are strongly recommended. The submission of paper/post applications will incur a processing delay due to the current situation.
Please also note that a number of other changes to the process have been adopted for a temporary period. These are as follows:
Site Notices are being printed by the applicant or their agent and may therefore appear different to the green notices.
Applicants and their agents are requested to provide photographs of all relevant parts of the application site clearly showing the relationship with neighbouring properties in order to allow officers to assess the application remotely as far as it is possible to do so. Neighbours are also encouraged to supply photographs which illustrate any concerns they may have.
Officers may still require a site visit in person if an assessment of an application remotely is not considered possible. Where this is necessary site visits will be carried out unaccompanied and we may ask that external access through a gate is provided at a prearranged time.
The following is a guide to the planning application process.
The Planning Application Process
1. Validation and registration Toggle accordion
When we receive an application it will be checked to ensure that:
the plans are clear, to metric scale and show the existing situation and proposed works;
the forms and certificate of ownership have been properly completed and that the owner and/or leaseholder of the property has been notified;
all other requirements specified in the validation checklist have been submitted;
the correct fee has been paid.
Please note that the information supplied, including Planning Statements or Design and Access Statements, will be published on our website (with any signatures and personal telephone and email details redacted) as part of the Council’s planning register.
If you include any sensitive personal data e.g. medical information or health details, details about your children, education details where a name identifies the child, details of any criminal convictions, in your statement or accompanying documents, this information WILL appear on the website. By submitting a statement with that sensitive personal data in it, you are giving CONSENT for this information to go into the public domain.
However, if you need to supply such information in support of your application, and you wish it to remain confidential, this should be supplied in a separate document clearly marked confidential, which we can withhold from publication.
If we need more information, we will write to your planning agent (if you have one). We ask for this information to be supplied within 14 days. From 1 September 2020, if an application is made that fails to meet our validation requirements, an invalid application charge will be made. If the information required to make the application valid is not received within 14 days of a written request for further information, we will dispose of the application. We will also deduct a charge of £25 for householders, £75 for minor/other applications and £175 for major applications from the planning fee submitted before returning the balance.
If we have all the information needed, we will write to your planning agent with the:
name of the planning officer dealing with your application;
application number (you can use this to check progress online under 'Application Status');
the date by which we aim to make the decision (for changes check online).
Please note that where an architect or surveyor (your planning agent) is employed to act on behalf of an applicant, all communications will be with the agent.
2. Consultations and advertisements Toggle accordion
We ask for two types of comments on an application:
Technical - such as Historic England or Hertfordshire Highways, or other Council departments, such as Environmental Compliance.
Local - we often write and ask for the views of neighbours. In these cases we write to adjoining neighbours and sometimes those opposite.
All consultation responses are put on our website.
Some applications have to have a notice put in the local newspaper and in the street. These site notices are posted on or near the application site. In most cases the Council does this, but in some cases this is the applicant's responsibility.
3. Site visit Toggle accordion
The planning officer dealing with an application will make a visit to the application site. The applicant does not need to be there for the visit. Appointments are not usually made unless there are problems with access.
At the visit, the officer will check that the relevant neighbours have been consulted. The officer will assess the impact of the proposals on neighbouring properties and the area. Usually the planning officer does not visit the neighbours.
4. Planning officer review Toggle accordion
The planning officer will contact the planning agent if more information or changes are needed to the application. We will also contact them with any questions or updates during the process. You can check progress on the application by speaking to your agent or checking progress online.
Applicants are advised that we are refining our approach to amendments sought during the consideration of an application. If the scheme is:
Acceptable as submitted - we will approve without negotiation;
Unacceptable as submitted but only minor amendments are required which do not materially alter the proposal - we will seek minor amendments as long as further consultation is not required with neighbours or consultees and the amendments are received within the statutory period for determination or a short extension of time is agreed by the agent promptly.
Unacceptable as submitted but minor amendments are required to respond to issues identified. The invitation for amendments will be at the discretion of the case officer and will be determined on whether such amendments/further information can be submitted, further consultation undertaken and the case officer can consider the response within the statutory period for determination or with a short extension of time being agreed by the agent promptly; and
Unacceptable as submitted (including key supporting information being missing from the submission) e.g. contrary to policy or further consultation is required - we will refuse without negotiation.
The planning officer may discuss with the agent the need for a legal agreement or planning obligation. These Section 106 obligations are legal agreements between the Council and a developer to ensure that extra works related to the development are undertaken.
They are most widely used to get transport, education and environmental improvements and affordable housing, to mitigate the impacts of development.
In addition to the Council's Supplementary Planning Guidance on affordable housing and toolkit, we will:
Look at the Viability Appraisal as an Open Book assessment.
Publish a copy of the Financial Viability Assessment/Appraisal online.
Include a clause in Section 106 Agreements requiring a review of the viability situation within a defined timeframe.
5. Officer’s report Toggle accordion
The planning officer will assess the application. They will write a summary report looking at:
Local Plan policy;
Any past history on that site or similar applications;
Standards such as neighbours’ daylight, visibility near roads and junctions, and car parking.
Comments from technical consultees;
Any comments or views from neighbours.
The report will include a recommendation whether permission should be granted or refused and why.
6. The decision Toggle accordion
We aim to make most decisions in eight weeks (or 13 weeks for major developments). For example, our target for Householder applications is for 75% to be decided within eight weeks.
Most applications are decided by the Head of Planning and Building Control and senior planning officers. All comments, including those from neighbours, have to be considered carefully before a decision is made.
Some applications are considered by one of the three area Planning Committees, who meet every four weeks. Please see Planning Committee Meetings for which applications go to committee, the call-in process and speaking at committee.
To find out if your application is going to be considered at Committee, please check progress online. If we receive a 'call-in', this will be published online.
The agenda for each committee will also be published on our website one week prior to the Committee date. If you do not have easy access to the internet, you can telephone us on 01727 866100 one week prior to the relevant Committee date and ask if your application is going to be heard at Committee.
After permission is granted
Getting planning permission is not the end of the planning process. Please go to our page After permission is granted.