The decision making process
How applications are processed
On receipt of a planning application, the LPA will firstly check the application to determine whether it’s complete.
A valid application comprises:
- Information requested on the standard application form
- Mandatory national information requirements, including a design and access statement if one is required
- Information specified on an LPA’s local list
The above items are discussed in detail in our section on making an application1.
Once a planning application has been received, accompanied by all the necessary information, it should be validated as soon as is reasonably practicable. The LPA should then start the determination process. Notification should be given to the applicant in writing.
Once an application has been deemed valid and the determination process commences, the application is placed on the planning register and given an application reference number.
Normally, most minor and small-scale applications should be validated within three to five working days from the date of receipt. Major applications should be validated within 10 working days.
If a planning application is deemed invalid, the LPA should notify the applicant of their reasons in writing, unless it is clear that the omissions could be addressed rapidly, in which case it may be more efficient to telephone or email the applicant.
If the applicant disagrees with the LPA’s reason(s) for invalidating the application, he or she should first discuss it with a higher level officer at the LPA. If the dispute cannot be resolved with the LPA, and more than eight weeks have passed since the application was submitted for determination (or 16 weeks for applications requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment), the applicant may have the right to appeal against non-determination on the grounds of invalidity after 8 or 16 weeks (as applicable).
In some circumstances the supporting information may be inadequate or its quality may be a concern. These are not grounds for invalidating applications. However, in cases where the applicant has not complied with a request from the LPA to provide an item that is either a national or local requirement, there is no right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
If the LPA validates an application but also uses its powers to request additional information from the applicant, the ‘clock’ should not be stopped while waiting for this further information. Normal determination periods should continue to apply unless a longer period is agreed in writing between the applicant and local planning authority to extend the determination period.