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How a Planning Application is Processed

Planning applicants and neighbours can track the progress of an application, new comments received and any changes made online. A number of steps are involved in processing a planning application.

Planning officers at table 2

1. Apply for permission

Detailed notes setting out the information needed with an application is found at Apply for permission - Planning and Estate Management. The information required for each type of application varies.

2. Validation

On receiving a planning application, it is checked to ensure it contains all the necessary plans, information and the correct fee. Any missing information will be requested before we start to process the application. Once we have the information copies of applications are made available online.

3. Consultation

Consultations are often sent to other council departments or outside bodies such as Environment Agency and Parish Councils. Consultees have 21 days in which to reply. Copies of these replies are available online.

4. Asking the neighbours

We tell neighbours about new applications by letter, site notice or newspaper advertisement. A pdf icon guidance note [250KB] has been produced detailing when neighbours are notified of the different types of planning application.

Neighbours adjoining the application site are notified about an application by letter. Previous objectors to a planning application on the same site may be notified about a further application because they are a neighbour. It is not the council's practice to notify previous objectors as a matter of course. If you think we have failed to notify you when we should have, please let us know. However, you do not need to wait for a letter to write to us with your views or objections on a current application.

We put up a site notice when neighbouring land is unoccupied or where the occupier of the land cannot be readily identified, for example an open field. A site notice is also put up on or near the site for:-

  • Applications for listed building consent
  • Development affecting the setting of a listed building or the character and appearance of a conservation area
  • Applications accompanied by an environmental statement
  • Applications which do not accord with the local plan
  • Development affecting a public right of way.

A site notice may also be used to tell local people that a Development Consultation Forum will be held before a planning application for a major development is submitted.

Some types of planning proposal are advertised in a local newspaper. These include:-

  • Erection of ten or more homes or housing development on a site of 0.5 hectare or more
  • Erection of a building or buildings where the floor space to be created is 1,000 square metres or more
  • Other development on a site of 1 hectare or more
  • Developments that are likely to be of wider concern
  • Applications in a conservation area or affecting a listed building

We take account of any views received within the time specified in the letter, notice or advertisement. Failure to meet the deadline could mean your comments are not considered when determining the application.

When neighbour comments are received they are published on the website and will include the name and address of the person who has made the comments. By law, all comments received must be open to public inspection, which will include publishing them on the internet where they can be seen by anyone, including the applicant. Private information, such as signatures, email address and telephone numbers. will be redacted so that they are not visible. If you would like your name to be removed from the website then a request should be made in writing to the Planning department.

5. Planning Officer Review

Where more information is needed the Planning Officer will contact the applicant, or his/her agent.

The Planning Officer will visit the site but not neighbours properties. Where necessary the applicant may be asked to provide access to the site.

If problems are identified with the application and there is scope to address these through changes, the planning officer will contact the applicant to discuss changes. Depending on the change made, consultation of the application may take place again but for a shorter period of time. Whether you are notified about a change will be dealt with on a case by case basis. In determining this we will look at:

  • Will the change proposed affect a neighbour?
  • How substantial were objections received at an earlier stage?
  • Does the change overcome a problem previously raised?
  • How significant is the proposed change?

All the information and any views received in writing, are considered taking into account national planning guidance, the Development Plan and Planning Considerations for the area. The Planning Officer will write a report making a recommendation on whether a conditional planning permission should be granted or permission refused.

6. Application Considered

The Planning Officers report and recommendation will be considered by the Development Management Committee or an officer to whom authority to make a decision has been delegated.

The Development Management Committee is held in public and everyone can attend and see the decision is made. Public speaking is also permitted at the meeting.

Most applications are decided by officers. Planning applications can be approved by officers provided that:

  • They accord with planning policy.
  • The application has not been "called in" by a Welwyn Hatfield Councillor within the parish notification expiry date (to find this date, please view the weekly list).
  • The decision would not conflict with any objection received from a District Councillor, Parish Council or adjoining Local Authority
  • It is not considered, by officers, that the application should go to the Development Management Committee.
  • The application is not a major application where Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is the applicant and/or has interest in the land/property covered by the application

Planning applications can be refused by officers, where they conflict with planning policies and cause harm, provided that:

  • The decision would not conflict with views received from a District Councillor within the parish notification expiry date (to find this date, please view the weekly list)
  • It is not considered, by officers, that the application should go to the Development Management Committee.

7. The Decision

The planning officers report is available online so everyone can see how a decision was reached.

If permission is granted, it can be subject to Planning Conditions , or it require the completion of a legal agreement. Sometimes details to agree these conditions or legal agreements need to be submitted to the council for approval, which involve the submission of a further application.

If changes are needed to the scheme once planning permission is granted then they could be dealt with as:

(a) a non-material change.

(b) by a further planning application.

If permission is refused the council will give reasons why the application is refused. The planning officers report will give further details. The applicant may be able to change their proposals to overcome the problems. If so a new application can be made. Before making a new application, it is advisable to enter into Pre-application Advice.

If the council refuses planning permission or the planning conditions are not acceptable, or the council fails to reach a decision within the target date for the application the applicant has a right of appeal.

If the council refuses Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Consent the applicant has a right of appeal.

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