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How the Planning Application Process Works

A guide to the entire planning applications process from start to finish

From start to finish, how planning applications are considered.

1 Initial steps

Once you have a proposed development in mind, the first step is to establish whether planning permission or some other type of permission, such as Listed Building Consent, is required. See our web page Do I need planning permission? for advice. Permission may not be required, but, if it is, you will need to make a planning application.

Before you make a planning application, it is important for you to consult the development plan so you can ensure that your proposal is in accordance with all relevant development plan policies. This is important, because planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Therefore, a proposal that is contrary to the development plan is highly unlikely to be approved.

Once you are satisfied that your proposal requires planning permission and accords with all relevant development plan policies, the next step is to complete the appropriate application form, supply the required supporting information, and pay the necessary application fee. Guidance on what needs to be provided is found in our Planning applications web page.

2 Validating and Registering a planning application

Upon receipt of an application the Council first checks to ensure that it has been completed correctly (with sufficient accurate plans and the correct fee provided). National and Local Validation guidelines are followed when registering your application (see the Planning applications web page for more detail on this).

If the application is found to be invalid, the Council will contact you or your agent (if you have used one), by telephone, email or letter. The application will not be considered until it is valid.

Once a complete and valid application is received the determination process begins and the application is assigned to a Case Officer. An acknowledgement will be sent stating the application reference number and a target date for deciding the application. Most planning applications are decided within 8 weeks, except for applications that are unusually large or complex that have a target date of 13 or 16 weeks.

3 Consultations and Publicity

Once an application has been validated, the Council publicises and consults upon it. Neighbours that can be identified as sharing a common boundary with the site are notified by letter. When necessary, a site notice is also posted in the vicinity. In certain cases, applications are also advertised in the local press.

Anyone can comment on a planning application. You do not need to have been directly notified of the application. A statutory period of 21 days is allowed for neighbours or other parties to express their views.  A decision cannot be made on an application until the consultation period has elapsed.

The Parish or Town Council is also notified of applications and further consultation is carried out as necessary to obtain expert advice from specialist bodies such as the Highway Authority (North Yorkshire County Council), and the Environment Agency. All comments received, whether from specialist bodies, Parish / Town Councils, or other interested parties such as local residents, can be viewed on the Council's Planning Application Database which can also be used to track the progress of an application.

4 Considering the acceptability of the application

Following the end of the consultation period and prior to determination of the application, the Case Officer will:-

  • Study the plans and supporting information that forms the application.
  • Consider all correspondence received during the consultation period.
  • Visit the site (very occasionally this may not be undertaken if a Case Officer is already very familiar with a site).
  • Assess the proposal against all relevant development plan policies.
  • Compile a report using all the above information, and make a recommendation of approval or refusal.

During this period the Case Officer may also enter into discussions with applicants or their agents to improve the proposals that have been submitted. This may be necessary to ensure that proposals are in accordance with the development plan or to take account of comments that have been received, for example. The UK Government encourages Planning Authorities to approach decision-making in a positive way and work proactively with applicants to secure the delivery of developments that improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area. Development proposals that accord with an up-to-date development plan should be approved without delay.

5 Who makes the final decision?

Most applications are determined by the Strategic Manager for Planning and Regeneration under the Council's Scheme of Delegation for Planning . This is commonly referred to as determining an application under delegated powers. Applications considered under this process are generally the smaller and less controversial proposals. With these applications the Case Officer will present their written report and recommendation to an Officer who is authorised to determine the application. No application is determined without the Case Officer's report and recommendation being considered and accepted by another Officer.

Larger and more controversial applications will generally be determined at a meeting of the Council's Planning Committee. The Scheme of Delegation for Planning is used to decide which applications are determined by the Planning Committee. The Planning Committee web pages provide information on the Scheme of Delegation, Committee meeting dates, the membership of the Committee and other related matters.

6 What decision can be reached?

If an application is approved it will often be subject to conditions that will need to be complied with. Permissions will also usually have a requirement to commence works within a certain time period otherwise the permission will lapse.

If an application is refused permission the decision notice will clearly specify the reason(s) for refusal.

7 What happens if you do not agree with the final decision?

An applicant has a right of appeal against a decision to refuse a planning application or against any conditions imposed on a decision to grant permission. Appeals are considered by the Planning Inspectorate and further information can be found on the Council's Planning decisions and appeals webpage. A Planning Appeal is generally regarded as a last resort, and agreement can often be reached with the Council following adjustment of the proposal after considering the reasons for refusal. For objectors to an application, there is no right of appeal against a decision to approve a planning application. If you are not happy with the way an application has been handled by the Council concerns should be raised in writing or sent by email to However, please be aware that once a decision has been issued it cannot be withdrawn.

8 Following planning approval

Development needs to be undertaken precisely in accordance with the approved plans and any conditions attached to the planning permission. If you wish to change some details of your permission and the change is very small, you should apply for a Non Material Amendment. Larger changes may need a new planning application or a Variation of Condition application where the permission includes an approved plans condition. Failure to adhere to the detail of approved plans or to comply with conditions, without the Council's written authorisation, would contravene the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and enforcement action may be taken. Further advice is available on the Make a planning application and Planning enforcement web pages.

Please also be aware that separate permission may be needed under Building Regulations legislation for any works that you intend to undertake - see our web page What kind of works require Building Regulations Approval?