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Thursday 23 October 2014

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Planning

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question 1:  Can the County Council overrule a District Council planning decision?

Question 2:  Can the County Council choose to ignore the views of the District Council/Parish Council when deciding applications dealt with by the County Council?

Question 3: Can the County Council choose to permit proposals, which may appear to be in conflict with detailed planning policies?

Question 4:  Can I appeal against a decision to approve a planning application when I have objected to the proposal?

Question 5: What can I do if I think someone is carrying out works without planning permission or outside of the terms of their consent?

Question 6:  How long does it take to get a decision?

Question 7: How can I find out about building regulations?

Question 8:  How do I object / make my views known on a planning application?

Question 9: What are Use Classes?

Question 10: What is Development Management?

Question 11:  Who will determine my planning application?

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Question 1:  Can the County Council overrule a District Council planning decision?
No. The County Council has no authority to overrule a planning decision for applications decided by the District Councils. The County Council as the strategic planning authority may comment on a proposal that is likely to be of more than local importance if consulted by the District Council and may on occasion object to them. When this occurs, the application may be 'called in' by the Secretary of State and can be the subject of a public inquiry.

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Question 2:  Can the County Council choose to ignore the views of the District Council/Parish Council when deciding applications dealt with by the County Council?
The County Council will consider all issues raised by the planning application. Where objections are received from District or Parish Councils, the application will normally be referred to the County Council's Development Management Committee for decision. This Committee will balance all planning considerations and on occasion it may decide against the view of the objecting councils.

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Question 3:  Can the County Council choose to permit proposals, which may appear to be in conflict with detailed planning policies?
Yes, on occasions there can be many differing policies, which may appear to be in conflict with each other. When this occurs, the decision taken must balance any conflicting policies. All applications are considered ‘on their merits’ and if considered to be a departure from planning policy will be subject of reference to the Secretary of State who may decide to invoke his ‘call in’ powers and hold a Public Inquiry.

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Question 4:  Can I appeal against a decision to approve a planning application when I have objected to the proposal?
No, only the applicant has the right of appeal (when his/her proposal is refused) although Government has been looking at this issue for some time.  If you have a complaint about the way an application was dealt with, you can also raise it through the County Council complaint procedure. Such complaints will then be investigated by the Council’s Complaints Officer, on instruction by the Council’s Chief Executive.  In addition, in the case of alleged maladministration, you can also register a complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman, who is totally independent from the County Council. However, the Ombudsman only has the power to investigate the procedures followed by Local Authorities, i.e. how a decision was reached rather than whether the decision was correct. Alternatively, if you think that the decision is wrong in law, then you can apply through the Courts for a Judicial Review of the process.

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Question 5:  What can I do if I think someone is carrying out works without planning permission or outside of the terms of their consent?
The County Council's Development Management Team will investigate alleged breaches of planning control on minerals and waste sites and for County Council development in accordance with its Enforcement Protocol. Complaints may be received by letter, telephone or email. It would be helpful if details can be as informative as possible for example if complaints relate to lorry movements, details of registration number, company livery, direction and time of movement is very helpful in pursuing an investigation. The Council however does not recommend that you enter onto the land involved. Observations should be restricted to your own property or public view points. All personal details given to officers will remain confidential.

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Question 6:  How long does it take to get a decision?
Applications for small developments that do not attract significant objections should be decided within 8 weeks, however large scale developments, or those that raise objections can take a lot longer to determine. Extensions of time for the determination of applications beyond the 8-week period need to be subject of agreement between the applicant and the Planning Authority.

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Question 7:  How can I find out about building regulations?
New building work will often need to comply with Building Regulations as well as planning permission requirements. These prescribe minimum standards for health and safety. The Regulations also apply to certain changes of use of existing buildings. You also need approval from the relevant District Council if the work you want to do involves building over a sewer or a drain. The Building Control Department of your local District Council will be able to tell you whether you need Building Regulations approval and how to apply.

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Question 8:  How do I object / make my views known on a planning application?
By law, every planning application submitted to a planning authority has to undergo a period of public consultation and in the case of 'County Matter' applications and County Council Development planning applications you will need to contact the County Council to engage yourself in the consultation process.

You can view applications to be determined by the County Council at the relevant  District Council and at Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter. The County Council also publishes details of planning applications on its website. These include all supporting documents along with the opportunity to comment on a planning application.

One thing you need to be aware of is that when the Council makes its decision, it can only take into account land use planning considerations. These include matters like traffic generation, the appearance of the proposed development and its effect on people’s enjoyment of their environment. Matters that are not normally taken into account are things like property values or individual interests. Any comments you send us will be a matter of public record in accordance with the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 and so will be available for others to see.

If you feel particularly strongly about a specific application, you may also like to write to your local County Councillor. If you don’t know who he or she is, you can find out by following this link:

Applicants, objectors and other interested parties have an opportunity to address the Development Management Committee in respect of any planning application before the Committee for a decision. There is a leaflet entitled ‘Having Your Say - Public Participation at Committee Meetings’ that provides further detail and can be accessed by following the link below:

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Question 9:  What are Use Classes?
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 2005 puts uses of land and buildings into various categories running from run from A1 to D2 (for example C1 Hotels, C2 Residential institutions etc).

Planning permission is not required when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same "use class" as defined in the Order. It is also possible to change use between some classes without making an application. For more information see “Planning Permission - a guide for business” by clicking on the link below:

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Question 10:  What is Development Management?
Development Management is the part of the planning system that makes sure that all proposed development meets the requirements for that location laid down in the local development / Structure Plan.

Everyone proposing to develop land or buildings must submit a planning application if the proposal meets a certain level of importance. Some minor proposals are 'permitted development' and do not require a planning application.

Planning authorities always try to grant permission for development unless there are good reasons to refuse it.

Development Management planners are ready to discuss proposals before they are turned into formal applications and, as a result, the majority of planning applications are successful. In the case of a refusal of permission, the reasons for refusal must be based upon approved plans and policies and be communicated to the applicant, who has a right to appeal against the decision.

The 8 District Councils in Devon give planning permission on a whole range of developments, including residential, office, industrial, and retail proposals, and are the planning authority in that respect.  The County Council gives planning permission to a rather more limited range of developments, including minerals extraction, waste, public highways and County-controlled schools. Planning applications by members of the general public are therefore mostly submitted to the District and Borough Councils.

The district planning authorities consult Devon County Council as the Highway Authority on the highway and transportation issues relating to development proposals. The Development Management Highways Officer then advises the district planning authorities accordingly.

Question 11:  Who will determine my planning application?
Planning applications will be determined either by designated officers or, where appropriate, by the Development Management Committee of the County Council. For more information please follow the link below:

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