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Determining planning applications

31 August 2016

Planning decisions can be made in three different ways. 

Development and Regulation committee 

The committee meets on the 4th Friday of each month to consider planning applications which have not been determined under delegated powers. Development and Regulation committee meetings are open to the press and public.
The agenda for the Development and Regulation committee meeting is published at least 5 full working days before the committee meets. Minutes of committee meetings are published following the meeting. A list of items that are due to be considered at forthcoming committee meetings is published to provide interested parties with enough time to make representations or to arrange to attend the meeting in person. 

Delegated items 

Under delegated powers, given by full council, certain planning decisions can be made directly by the Head of the Planning Authority without consideration by the Development and Regulation committee. Applications can be decided directly by the Head of Planning, based on planning officer recommendation, when: 
  • No responses to a planning application have been received
  • Two or fewer objections to a planning application have been received and the Chairman of the Development and Regulation Committee uses his discretion to give the planning officer the right to determine the application
  • None of the consultation bodies have any concerns relating to the application
  • The planning application is clearly in line with planning policy and is to be approved
  • The planning application is clearly not in line with planning policy and is to be rejected.

Consideration by the Secretary of State 

Under certain circumstances, the decisions of the Development and Regulation committee need to be reviewed by the Secretary of State. This can occur for one of three reasons: 
  • The application is for Listed Building or Conservation Area consent
  • The Secretary of State has indicated that they wish to determine the application
  • The application is a significant departure from the Development Plan, but is being recommended for approval by the Development and Regulation committee. 
Once a decision has been made by any of the three avenues, a Decision notice is published.


The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 gives Essex County Council the power to impose conditions on any application as they see fit. The following is a list of Specimen Planning Conditions that can be used as a template. However, these will often be varied to make sure they meet relevant requirements of each application.
Conditions may be imposed for the following reasons:
  • Regulating the use of any land under the control of the applicant (whether or not it is land in respect of which the application was made) or requiring the carrying out of works on any such land, so far as appear to the local planning authority to be expedient for the purposes of or in connection with the development authorised by the permission; or 
  • for requiring the removal of any buildings or works authorised by the permission, or the discontinuation of any use of land so authorised, and the end of a specified period, and the carrying out of any works required for the reinstatement of land at the end of that period.

Conditions must meet six criteria in order to be acceptable to impose. They must be:

  1. necessary – in the sense that a development would have to be refused if it were not imposed, or if breached there would be need to take enforcement action
  2. relevant to planning
  3. relevant to the development
  4. enforceable – such that an infringement is possible to detect and requirements are within the applicant’s control
  5. precise – the requirements of the conditions to be carried out must be clear, a timescale must be given in which the requirements are to be carried out, and it must be clear for the applicant to ascertain what must be done to comply with the condition
  6. reasonable.


Further information can be found in “Circular 11/95: Use of conditions in planning permission”.  

All conditions will have a reason for their imposition which should clearly explain the need for them and the importance of compliance.