How our planning service operates
The Development Management team regulates development and uses of land and buildings, to make sure it complies with national planning legislation and our Local Plan. We aim to ensure that all development is high quality and is carried out in the right places.
Our main roles are to:
- give advice to planning agents and residents on whether they need planning permission
- assess and make a decision on applications for planning permission, listed building consent, advertisement consent, prior approvals and lawful development certificates.
- defend the council in planning appeals
Submitting an application
We recommend that you submit all applications using the Planning Portal.
If your application is valid, we aim to confirm this within five working days. If your application is invalid, or is a paper submission, this may take longer.
If your submission is invalid we will write to you to tell you why and give you 21 days to provide what is necessary.
Invalid applications are likely to be missing the fee or vital information, or have inaccurate plans. We can’t progress your application until it is valid. Our Local Validation List gives details of what information you need to submit.
Once valid, we will write to you telling you the planning reference number and when we will make a decision on your application.
Consulting and notifying on applications
Once valid, we will consult all relevant agencies. We will publicise the application, as set out in our Statement of Community Involvement and the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order. We will also post a site notice at or near to the site.
We will assess all applications based on the information you submit. We may contact you to ask for revised or additional plans or information. We may then need to carry out further consultation.
Processing the application
While we are processing the application, we will not:
- give progress updates on an application
- give advice on the likely outcome of the application
- enter into ad-hoc correspondence
- respond to neighbour comments or questions
- accept revised plans or additional information, unless we have specifically requested them
This applies to planning agents, applicants or any third parties, including neighbours.
If we do need to ask for revised or further plans or information, we ask for an extension to the statutory deadline for making a decision.
If you do have a question about a current application, you need to use our Current planning application enquiry form’ However, we may not be able to respond to all queries.
Our senior officers make most of the planning decisions. Our constitution sets out when our Planning Committee will make a decision on applications.
If an application is going to Planning Committee, we will let applicants know at least five working days before the meeting. We will also notify anyone who has commented on the application.
We make all planning decisions according to:
- relevant planning legislation
- the Chelmsford Local Plan 2013 to 2036
We will also take into account:
- all relevant planning matters raised by residents and consultees
- all material planning considerations
We aim to issue all decisions within the relevant statutory or agreed time frame. If this is not possible, we will contact you to and let you know why.
Within one working day of making a decision, we will:
- notify you (or your agent) of our decision
- publish a copy of the decision notice and planning report on our website
General planning enquiries
Our Customer Service Centre handle general planning enquiries. They are unable to give site-specific planning advice.
If you need site-specific advice, you need to apply and pay for planning advice. This is because every property is unique and our officers need to do a significant amount of work to give you an accurate answer.
Specific planning advice enquiries
We offer a chargeable planning advice service. You can ask us:
- whether you need planning permission
- the likelihood of your planning application being approved
- any issues that you need to consider before you submit your application
- what information, forms and documents you need to submit with your application to ensure that it is valid
You can also request written advice or a meeting with a planning officer followed by written advice.
Due to their size and complexity, strategic and larger developments often require several pre-application meetings.
For these developments we encourage the use of planning performance agreements (PPAs), a written agreement between us and the applicant (usually a developer). PPAs agree timescales for action, and resources for handling both pre-application and application stage or solely pre-application stage.
Our approach to PPAs is that they should be as simple and flexible as possible. The benefits of a PPA include:
- increased resources
- more certainty for the developer on committee and decision dates
- a project-managed application process
- greater access to the team of officers handling the case.
At the start of the process, the developer can enter a PPA and agree a fee for a series of meetings/discussions. They can apply for individual meetings if they prefer.
If a developer submits an application without engaging with us first, we will assess their application on the information, drawings and plans they submit. They may not be able to amend the proposal or meet with the case officer to discuss the application.
If a major application does not have a PPA, we will make a decision on it within its statutory decision deadline, where possible.