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Architectural Services Surrey: The Planning Process

After submitting the planning application surrey, what happens next?

Firstly we advise you speak to your neighbours, as they are ultimately going to be notified by the council, and it is much more polite to hear direct form yourselves prior to having pontification form the council. This often helps to prevent any disputes and objections.

Once the council receive an application they check it to ensure that it has been completed correctly (with the sufficient and accurate plans and correct fees). When the application is in order they will send out a formal acknowledgement stating the reference number and a date by which it is hoped that a decision will be made by. They will also enter it onto the Register available for public inspection.


How long will it take for a decision to be made?

The statutory target is to make a decision on at least 80% of all planning applications within 8 weeks of receiving them. They may require more time for larger and more complex/controversial applications.


Planning application process flowchart

Who will know about the planning application?

It is the statutory duty to let the public know about planning applications. They do this in a number of ways:

  • In most cases a site notice is displayed
  • In certain circumstances it is advertised in the press (eg in Conservation areas)
  • If considered appropriate letters are sent to neighbours

There is a statutory consultation period of 21 days from the date of the site notice for any written comments to be submitted. They cannot make a decision on your application until the consultation period has elapsed.

They also consult a number of specialist bodies to obtain expert advice on various aspects of the proposed development depending upon what it is you intend to do, and where you intend to do it. Common consultees are the Highway Authority and the Parish Council. They will take into account all relevant views expressed by interested parties. These must be based on land use considerations, as the planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another.

We usually contact the case officer 4 weeks after receiving your validation letter to check the progress.

How are planning decisions reached?

The planning officer dealing with your application will visit the site and consider any comments received, for example these may be from objectors and consultees. They may or mayn’t contact you prior to the site visit. They may contact us to obtain more information about the proposal or to suggest alterations to your plans, which will increase your chances of receiving permission.

Their main focus is on the application’s compliance with planning policy, however they also take into account material considerations (eg supplementary planning guidance), site specific factors such as access, and design, as well as any comments received during the consultation period. They are keen to ensure that all development that takes place is of high quality and will reject poor designs, which are out of scale or character with their surroundings.

They aim to strike a balance between achieving a rapid turn around of planning applications, and public desire to have a greater say in the decision making process. As a result there are two ways in which decisions can be made on applications, either through a delegated procedure or a Committee procedure.

The Council has given delegated powers to the Director of Technical Services to determine planning applications. This is only if the following do not apply:

  1. Approval would be contrary to policy;
  2. Applications are of a major, controversial or sensitive nature;
  3. Applicants which have aroused significant public interest on valid planning grounds (see below) or an objection from a statutory consultee;
  4. Applications subject to a Parish Council objection on valid planning grounds (see below);
  5. Applications subject to a request by an objector to address the Planning Application Committee with valid planning grounds (see below);
  6. Applications requested by a Council Member to go to committee;
  7. Applications where the recommendation is contrary to that of a statutory undertaker eg Highways Authority.

The following are not ‘valid planning grounds’:

  • Devaluation of property
  • Loss of view
  • Personal or financial circumstances or the character of the applicant
  • Third party interest
  • Some matters covered by other legislation or controls including Building Regulations and Licensing

Where delegated powers cannot be used (on applications which are more of a controversial nature) the Planning Application Committee is the body with the power to make the final decision on whether the application should be approved.

Where an application requires significant change before being acceptable they may give you the opportunity to withdraw the application and resubmit with revised plans. Usually no fee will be required for this.

Types of planning decisions

There are 3 types of decision that can be reached: approval, approval with conditions, and refusal.

Unconditional planning approvals

These are rarely issued and normally relate to specific types of application, for example Certificates of Lawfulness for Existing Use or Development (CLEUD)

Approval subject to conditions

This is where a planning approval is granted subject to planning conditions. Typical conditions include a time limit (usually 3 years) within which the proposal must be started, or requirements for building materials (eg they must match those of the existing building). All conditions have to be justified in terms of their relevance to planning, the development, and their enforceability.

On some occasions a planning agreement between the Planning Authority and the applicant/developer and any other parties with an interest in the land is required. This will be achieved through a Section 106 agreement or Unilateral Undertaking.


If an application is refused, reasons have to be stated. Usually these are due to conflicts with Development Plan Policies. For example, a proposal may result in unacceptable overshadowing of a neighbours living rooms and garden area. To try to reduce the likelihood of applications being refused our Development Plan is available for public inspection at both the Town Hall and Mansion House reception, as well as on display at all the libraries within the district, whilst the case officer is available by appointment for consultation at all stages of the application process.

After the decision

After the decision we will issue a decision notice to the applicant. Neighbours who have written in will also be notified, and the press will normally report decisions on major proposals. Approximately 92% of all applications are approved within the district, however if your application has been refused, you can submit a modified plan within 12 months of the original decision free of charge. If you do not wish to negotiate you can appeal either against the imposition of a condition/s or a notice of refusal. Appeals must be made within 6 months of the date of decision. Appeals can take several months to decide. A new procedure specifically for planning applications relating to Householder applications that are now only permits 12 weeks in which to initiate the appeal process.

Appeals are dealt with the Planning Inspectorate and original objectors are automatically informed if an appeal has been lodged.

The Planning Portal website also tells you how to make an appeal.



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