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Determining planning applications

12 February 2019

Planning decisions can be made in three ways. 
Delegated Authority 
Under delegated powers, given by full council, certain planning decisions can be made directly by the Head of Planning Service without consideration by the Development and Regulation Committee. The scheme of delegation allows the Head of Planning Service to exercise the Council’s functions as a Local Planning Authority except in the following circumstances:
  • Approval of a planning application where objections are raised by a statutory consultee or where there are more than two individual representations raising planning related objections.  
  •  If less than two letters of public objection are received and the Chairperson of the Development and Regulation Committee considers it appropriate for the application to be heard at Committee instead of using their powers of discretion to delegate the decision to the Head of Planning Service.
  • Approval of a planning application is accompanied by Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • Approval of a planning application which amounts to a significant departure from the Development Plan.
Development and Regulation Committee 

The Development and Regulation Committee normally sits on the fourth Friday of every month to consider planning applications that cannot be made under delegated authority. The Development and Regulation Committee is a public meeting and is open to the press. The Committee observes its own protocol and a protocol on public speaking. Information regarding these protocols can be found under the Development and Regulation heading here.


The agenda for committee meetings is published online at least five full working days before the committee date. Minutes of committee meeting are also published online, after the meeting takes place. This information can be found under the relevant committee date here 


Consideration by the Secretary of State 
Under certain circumstances, planning applications can be called-in by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 empowers the Secretary of State to call in a planning application for his own determination and this power can be exercised at any time up to the grant of planning permission. 
Some planning applications are also required to be sent to the National Planning Casework Unit for review, before a formal decision notice is issued. The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009 sets out the applicable criteria and arrangements that must be followed in this instance. 
When used properly, conditions can enhance the quality of development and enable development proposals to proceed where it would otherwise have been necessary to refuse planning permission, by mitigating the effects of the development. The objectives of planning are best served when the power to attach conditions to a planning permission is exercised in a way that is clearly seen to be fair, reasonable and practicable. It is important to ensure that conditions are tailored to tackle specific problems, rather than standardised or used to impose broad unnecessary controls.
The main powers relating to the use of conditions is included within The Town and Country Planning Act 1990, with Section 70(1)(a) enabling the Local Planning Authority, in granting planning permission, to impose “such conditions as they think fit”.
The Council has a set of Specimen Planning ConditionsHowever, these will often be varied to make sure they meet relevant requirements of each application.
The Six Tests
Conditions must meet six criteria in order to be acceptable to impose. They must be:

1. Necessary;

  1. 2. Relevant to planning ;

3. Relevant to the development to be permitted;

4. Enforceable;

5. Precise; and

6. Reasonable in all other respects

Further information on the six tests and conditions in general can be found here.
All conditions will have a reason for their imposition which should clearly explain the need for them and the importance of compliance.