The Town and Country Planning System is designed to regulate the development and use of land in the public interest. It is the means by which we enhance and protect our environment whilst at the same time allowing the development necessary for our economic and social well-being to take place in an acceptable manner. The development control process seeks to ensure that these aims are achieved through the submission and determination of applications for planning permission for development.
Leicestershire County Council is the Mineral and Waste Planning Authority and has the responsibility to control these types of developments. The County Council is also responsible for determining planning applications for its own developments.
The purpose of the Charter is to set out the aims and objectives of the County Council in its determination of planning applications and in particular to ensure that a high standard of service is provided to all those who are involved in the development control process.
Development control is a process which regulates the development and use of land. It involves the consideration of planning applications, the monitoring of development as it takes place, enforcement action where breaches of planning control have occurred and the provision of information and advice about the system generally and individual proposals specifically.
Development control is also a service to local communities. Its objective is to ensure that changes to our physical surroundings, buildings and land are appropriate for their purpose and location. A framework for development is set out in Government guidance, including Regional Guidance, and in more detail in the County Structure Plan, Minerals and Waste Local Plans and District wide Local Plans. Planning applications are considered against this framework but other relevant factors (material considerations) must also be considered.
Officers of the County Council aim to provide high quality professional planning advice to the County Council, applicants and the public and thus ensure that as far as possible the development control process is operated in a fair, consistent and efficient manner. The aim is to make the best decision about each application, not necessarily the quickest. This means taking into account the national and regional policies, policies of the Structure Plan, Minerals and Waste Local Plans and District-wide Local Plans, the proposals’ impact upon the environment and other relevant interests of the community. It will involve balancing the needs of the applicant in submitting the application for development against the effect that
development might have on the local infrastructure, on neighbours and on other people living nearby as well as other environmental considerations.
Applicants, neighbours and the public generally are all customers of the development control service. Many have limited experience of how the system works. They must be treated positively, courteously, and equally. This Charter sets out how the service will be delivered. It defines the service and the standards to be met.
Some planning applications, particularly larger scale ones, raise complicated issues. Those relating to the specialist areas of minerals and waste management or involving issues related to listed buildings, archaeology, infrastructure provision and contaminated land may, by their very nature, take longer to deal with and be subject to some variations in procedure. For example, those proposals that are likely to have significant effects on the environment may require an Environmental Impact Assessment which will consider the impacts in detail which the County Council will have to assess before coming to a view on such proposals.
Discussions with prospective applicants before an application is made are positively encouraged so as to ensure applications contain all necessary information and ensure they can be dealt with as efficiently as possible. Officers will be available during normal office hours to provide general information and advice. However, it will help, particularly in the case of a specific proposal, to make an appointment to ensure that enquiries can be dealt with promptly and effectively by the appropriate officer. It may be helpful to arrange a meeting on site. If a proposal is large or complex a meeting can be arranged at which relevant officers can be present if requested. Such applications may well require an Environmental Impact Assessment and are subject to specific regulations. Advice on Environmental Impact Assessments can be sought from officers. Confidentiality within the Council will be respected at this stage subject to some aspects of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedure having to be made public. If advice is sought by letter, a response will be made as soon as possible since the County Council may have to seek the advice of others. An indication of matters that might be included within a planning obligation may be given. Telephone enquiries not capable of being dealt with immediately will be responded to normally within 48 hours.
Whilst information and advice given will be as accurate and objective as possible, it will be given without prejudice to the formal consideration of the application.
It may well be advantageous for an applicant to submit a draft planning application for comment by officers prior to formal submission. Bear in mind that once the application has been made, the formal procedures will involve consultations and more detailed assessment of the proposal. This may highlight issues not anticipated at the informal, pre-application stage. Nevertheless, advice will be given about relevant planning policies and previous decisions, and concerning the Council’s requirements in relation to matters such as noise, dust, traffic, design, infrastructure etc. If it is possible from the information provided, advice will be given about the merits of an application. This will be without prejudice to formal consideration of the application by the Development Control and Regulatory Board.
Advice will be made available on how to make the planning application, together with information on how the decision is made, rights of access to information and documentation, and the standards of development quality the Council expects.
Relevant extracts or copies of the Council’s planning policies and other relevant documents will be made available, together with any other relevant information about the County Council procedures, Board dates and its membership. If requested, advice will also be given where known on the other approvals or consents which may be necessary or on other steps which may need to be taken.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to make sure that any application is submitted correctly. If needed, advice will be available for completing the documents and for deciding the correct fee.
The District Council is the registration authority for all planning applications. The County Council will send the valid planning applications to the District Councils for registration within five working days of that application being deemed valid. Planning applications will be acknowledged within three working days of the application being notified to the County Council as having been registered. Acknowledgement of the planning application will contain details as to when the statutory eight-week period (sixteen weeks for applications accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment) for the determination of the application will expire and of its implications
Whilst, for complex applications a specific target date for a decision would be difficult to provide, a broad indication of the process and likely period for decision will be given. With relatively simple, uncontroversial proposals it will be possible to provide a more accurate target date.
If the application is invalid, the applicant will be notified within five working days of receipt with an explanation of how this deficiency can be corrected. Where it is clear from the outset that the application is incomplete, the applicant will be notified of the required information and the reasons for submitting it as soon as is practicably possible, normally within 5 working days of notification of registration.
If applicants choose to use professional advisors or agents, discussions or negotiations about the application will take place directly with the advisor or agent.
Following notification of registration, consultations on the application will normally be sent out within five working days. If the application is incomplete then consultations will be carried out within 5 working days of the receipt of the requested information. However, because the number of applications received in any specific period is unpredictable, and some large scale applications will require duplicates to be obtained, it may not always be possible to achieve this target.
The complexity of the proposal will determine when such a request will be made. For example, where an Environmental Statement is concerned there are regulations which requires additional information to be notified within 21 days. A time limit for its return will be given and the implications of non-receipt will be explained. If further information is required while the application is being dealt with, for example as a consequence of a consultee raising particular issues, then the applicant will be notified of that need and the reason for it.
District Councils are consulted at the time the application is sent to them for registration. The relevant Parish Council(s) will be consulted. Where appropriate adjoining District and Parish Councils will be also consulted.
In cases where applications are considered to be unacceptable but the case officer believes amendments could be made to overcome the problems, the applicant or agent will be invited to make changes to overcome them. Such negotiations will be commenced as soon as possible. Depending on the outcome of those negotiations, more time is likely to be required to consider and carry out consultations on a revised application before a decision can be made by the Development Control and Regulatory Board.
Applicants will be informed on request about the progress of applications. If an application cannot be dealt with by the target date, the reason will be explained to the applicant. All written requests for time extensions will explain why the extended period is needed.
The Statutory Register, which lists all current applications and past decisions, is available for public inspection during office hours at District Council offices. Copies of all valid applications and of decisions will be placed on the Register by the District Council.
When deciding which neighbours to notify, the County Council will make a judgement on each case. It is not possible to be prescriptive but the minimum to expect would be to notify those in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site, although a wider notification may be carried out having regard to the likely effects of the proposal and the costs of carrying out that notification. In addition to posting site notices, the County Council will notify occupiers and owners of properties adjoining the application area by letter of the receipt of the application. In the case of larger development proposal applications other neighbours in the vicinity of the application will be notified by letter. On larger and specialist proposals (e.g. listed building consent) applications will be publicised by press advertisements. All representations received will be taken into account before a decision is made on any planning application. The County Council has adopted a procedure where people have the right to address the Development Control and Regulatory Board directly before the Board comes to its decision. The procedures for this are set out elsewhere.
Normally the County Council will despatch neighbour notification letters and erect a site notice within five working days of notification of registration of a complete application. Where a public meeting is to be held about the planning applications then the County Council will send out neighbour notification letters which will refer to the details of the public meeting once a venue and time has been decided. Details of the date, time and venue of the public meeting will be included in the letter.
An officer will be available during office hours to provide information and advice. Those people notified about a specific application, either by letter or site notice, will be advised, upon notification, how they can make comments upon it and will normally be allowed twenty-one days in which to do so. Comments will be taken into consideration until a decision has been issued. If major changes are made to the application, the notification procedure will be repeated as appropriate and a further period will be allowed for comment. Applications can be viewed online at www,leics.gov.uk
All written representations received will be acknowledged within 5 working days of their receipt. The acknowledgement will include details of the County Council’s policy on allowing interested parties to speak at the Development Control and Regulatory Board Representations received within the consultation period will be considered before the decision on an application is reached. If comments are received outside the consultation period but before a decision is made, those comments will also be taken in consideration before the decision is issued. Members of the Board will be informed of the comments and their relevance to the application will be explained.
The County Council has a procedure enabling people to address the Development Control and Regulatory Board about planning related (as referred to above) proposals. people wishing to speak at the board should contact Jenny Bailey on 0116 305 6225.
The Council, through the Development Control and Regulatory Board will meet on an approximately monthly basis to consider planning applications. Normally this consideration will be based on a report from the Director of Community Services setting out the relevant issues and representations. In considering applications upon which it has powers of determination it has approved procedures for members of the public to speak at the Board meeting, either for or against the proposal, together with the applicant.
Before reaching a decision, the Board may resolve to visit the site of the application, examine similar operational proposals in order to gain a better understanding of the application, and/or call a public meeting to listen to the views of those persons who are affected by or have an interest in the proposal. These steps are solely for the purpose of information gathering and at no time during them will members of the Board express a view, either for or against the proposal.
Once a final decision has been made, the decision notice will normally be issued to the applicant within three working days of the decision. Any conditions attached to a permission, reasons for refusal, reference to the development plan and/or any additional information or advice will be set out clearly and the reasons for them explained.
Some decisions may not be issued until the applicant and other relevant parties have entered into legal agreements. If such an agreement may be required, an applicant will be told at the earliest opportunity so that negotiations over the form and content of the agreement can be conducted concurrently with the processing of the application.
Where applicable, some proposals, including those which if permitted, would represent a departure from the Development Plan, will be referred to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions within five working days of the resolution of the Board.
In cases where an application is refused, the applicant’s right of appeal against the decision will be explained when the notice is issued. Advice will also be given on a without prejudice basis as to what amendments or alternative forms of development might lead to a favourable decision on a revised application.
All those making individual representations and organisers of petitions will be informed of the decision on the application normally within five working days of issue of the decision notice. Information about the application and the decision will be publicly accessible.
Once planning permission has been granted, the applicant may need to submit for approval by the County Council any details of the development which have not been approved beforehand. These details will be described in conditions attached to the permission and approval may need to be sought before development can take place.
Development must be carried out in accordance with the approved plans and other documents submitted in support of the application. It is important that the Council’s requirements are met and that permission is correctly implemented. The County Council’s policy on monitoring development and enforcement of planning control is contained within its Enforcement Policy Statement.
That Statement ensures that the County Council will give due regard to the provisions of the Development Plan for Leicestershire in the enforcement of planning control. In seeking to exercise its function of ensuring compliance with planning control, it will seek to resolve any problems by discussion and negotiation. Enforcement action will only be taken where it is necessary to do so in the public interest and in accordance with the policies within the Development Plan. Any action taken will always be commensurate with the nature and scale of the breach of planning control.
The County Council is also committed to dealing with all complaints concerning alleged breaches of planning control expeditiously, professionally and confidentially, ensuring that a full response is sent to the complainant received. Complaints about alleged breaches of planning control will be acknowledged within five working days and the complainant notified in writing within fifteen working days of receipt of how the Council intends to pursue the matter. If the Council decides not to take action, the reason will be explained.
All complaints will be investigated fully and promptly in accordance with the County Council’s adopted complaints procedures. All written complaints about the way in which development control matters are handled will be acknowledged within five working days. Such complaints will be investigated fully and promptly and the complainant will be given a written response regarding the outcome of the investigation and any action the Council proposes to take. It is important to understand that any complaints received should not be based upon dissatisfaction with the decision which the County Council has reached as planning authority, but with the process which the County Council has followed in order to reach that decision.
The Council will publish an annual review of its development control performance in line with the requirements set out by central Government on publication of a Best Value Performance Plan. If it has fallen below its target service levels, it will identify in detail the reasons for doing so and describe the measures it proposes to adopt to ensure targets are met. If justified it will examine and revise its policies, practices and targets.
Page Last Updated: 12 February 2007