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Guidance for applicants

This page contains guidance and further information on specific issues that may need to be addressed when you submit a planning application. This relates to the information referred to in the Validation requirements and has been prepared by the relevant specialists within the County Council.


Devon County Council has also produced a document that provides local planning authorities advice in relation to highways when determining a planning application for three dwellings or fewer. This may be useful when preparing an application to understand the issues that will be taken into account when considering your application. The standing advice guidance document can be found here.

If an application is approved and it involves works on the highway, you must complete Form N which provides notice to Devon County Council that you are intending to carry out these works and the road space can be managed. Guidance notes on how to complete this form have been produced and can be found here. This should be returned to the Highways Agreements Officer for the area:

Highway Design Guide

The Design Guide, Highways in Residential and Commercial Estates was first published in 1996 and last updated in 2001.

In recent years the approach to the design of the space between buildings has evolved away from the traditional dominance of the engineered carriageway. There is now a recognition that the public realm has many wider functions than just the movement of vehicles. This has been recognised in the national launch of the Manual for Streets (MfS) and MfS2.

Devon County Council played an instrumental part in the development of MfS and now works with developers to follow its principles in the design of new layouts in the county. Designers are encouraged to establish contact with their local development management officer (see contact details below) at the very start of the design process.

Part 4 of the Devon Design Guide, the Specification, continues to be updated and is included here for download.

The MfS replaces much of the remainder of the Design Guide. However, the remaining chapters can be referred to for information such as parking space dimensions and commercial estate roads and are therefore included for reference to those elements not covered in the Manual for Streets.

In recent years, experience has shown that many problems can arise where new roads are built to an inappropriate width for new development. This can lead to problems for the passage of larger vehicles, including particularly lorries and buses. Where a road is likely to carry any more than a purely local function within the development itself, or where either frequent goods vehicles’ or buses’ movements are likely, a road with a minimum carriageway width of 6.5 metres will be required, with the possibility of additional widening on bends where required.

Technical approval for structures

Technical approval is required for all new and existing structures with potential highway implications whether or not they are eventually intended to be adopted by the County Council. The process relates to design, construction, assessment, alteration, strengthening and repair.

Highways Development Management Officers

Area Officer
East Devon Ben Willmott & Fiona Baggott
Mid Devon Michelle Woodgates
North Devon Paul Young

Matthew Collins

Michael Newcombe

Exmoor National Park Paul Young
Torridge Matthew Collins

Michael Newcombe

West Devon Phil Townsend
Dartmoor National Park Phil Townsend
South Hams Richard Jackson
Teignbridge Matthew Beddow
Exeter City Ben Sunderland
Major development proposals
(Highways Development Manager)
Brian Hensley


General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Our GDPR notice can be found here 

Landscape, trees and green infrastructure

Devon County Council makes planning decisions and provides development management advice that includes considering whether proposals are consistent with landscape-related policies in the National Planning Policy Framework and Local Plans, including the Devon Waste Plan and Devon Minerals Plan. In general terms, landscape policies seek to accommodate sustainable development that also  conserves and enhances the distinctive character, special qualities and key features of landscapes in Devon, consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). For development proposals affecting National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), Devon County Council has a statutory duty to ‘have regard to’ the purposes of these designations, which for both designations means the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty. The NPPF requires great weight to be given to this in planning decisions.

Devon’s landscape character assessments, prepared and updated through collaborative working of the Devon landscape policy group, describes the distinctive character, special qualities and features of the landscape. This information, including the accompanying landscape strategies and guidelines, forms part of the evidence base for Local Plans and are therefore material considerations.

Please see Devon’s landscape for further information, including Advice Notes prepared by The Devon Landscape policy group.

What do I need to provide with my planning application?

Development proposals should demonstrate how the siting and design responds to the landscape and visual context and mitigates adverse impacts, taking opportunities to enhance the character of the area and the way it functions. Proposals should avoid or minimise loss of important landscape features that already provide green infrastructure functions and connectivity, or that could make a positive contribution to the future development and the wider green infrastructure network. This including trees, hedges and woodland that are protected by separate legislation including Tree Preservation Orders or subject to the Hedgerow Regulations. Where impacts are unavoidable, proposals need to compensate for losses within the application site or, if impractical, land under the applicant’s control (subject to appropriate legal agreements).

You may be required to submit at least one of the following along with your application:

  • A formal Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) or informal Landscape and Visual Assessment Report. These are professional, technical  assessments that should have regard to latest best practice guidelines published by the Landscape Institute and IEMA.  The process of assessment should be iterative allowing the siting and design of the proposed development to be refined such that adverse effects are mitigated to acceptable levels. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you engage a suitably qualified landscape professional to carry out these assessments as early as possible in the project planning. You can seek further guidance from our landscape officer to agree the scope and level of detail required for this assessment, including the key issues and how to address them in proportion to the sensitivity the landscape and visual context  and the type and scale of development.
  • Landscape Proposals/Mitigation Plan. This should show existing and proposed hard and soft landscape features, their intended purpose/objective (integrating wider environmental mitigation as appropriate), and typical composition/structure. Proposed changes to existing topography should be clearly shown through use of contours and spot heights as appropriate, related to OS datum. There should be distinction between existing and proposed features, and it should be clear what features are to be retained and removed. Again, the services of a landscape professional are likely to be required in preparing this information.
  • An Arboricultural Survey and Tree protection Plan. We recommend that you engage a member of the Arboricultural Association to undertake this work.
  • Where a  Green Infrastructure Scheme, a Design and Access Statement and a Landscape and Ecological Management Plan are requested, these will also need to contain landscape information consistent with the documents above.

Please see local validation requirements for further details on what these documents should contain.

Guidance on finding a landscape professional is provided by the Landscape Institute

Historic environment

We are in the process of producing a guidance document for heritage assets and development, this will include the different consent procedures, what documentation you would require for a planning application that affects a heritage asset and what should be included and thought about in that documentation.

The County Council’s Historic Environment webpages provides information on Devon’s historic environment, including detailed information on any archaeological investigation for a planning application.

National Heritage List for England is an up to date database of all nationally designated heritage assets, including listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered parks, gardens and battlefields and protected wreck sites.

Conservation Area Appraisals provide useful information in understanding its character, significance and opportunities for improvements when preparing a planning application that is within or affects a conservation. The districts within Devon produce these appraisals and they can be found using the following links:

Sustainable drainage

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) are methods of managing surface water drainage that take account of water quantity, water quality and amenity issues. In April 2015, national planning policy was strengthened on sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and major developments, as define by the Town and Country Planning Order 2015, should now provide SuDS, unless demonstrated to be inappropriate.

Devon County Council is a statutory consultee for planning application for major development and will expect to see sufficient information and justification in the Sustainable Drainage Statement accompanying the planning application. Minor developments that will alter the existing drainage arrangements will also need to provide this information. The information to be included within an application is listed within the Validation Requirements.

The Flood Risk Management Team’s webpages can be found here which provides more information on SuDS, including a Devon specific guide to SuDS 

Ecology and geology

Devon County Council is required to protect and enhance wildlife habitats, species and geological sites through the planning process. Some habitats and species are protected through European or national legislation, others are protected through national and local policy. In Devon, examples of widespread protected species include bats, dormice, nesting birds and reptiles.

Information on Devon’s environment has been mapped on our Environment Viewer

What do I need to provide with my planning application?

All planning applications must be submitted with a Wildlife and Geology Trigger Table to identify if the proposed development may impact on protected habitats or species. If there is a ‘yes’ in any column of Part A or Part B, a Wildlife and/or Geology Report must be prepared by a qualified and suitably experienced ecological consultant and submitted with you application as well.

If the Wildlife Report indicates that detailed protected species surveys are required these MUST be included with your planning application. The application cannot be validated without them.

All details of avoidance, mitigation, compensation and enhancement actions MUST also be included with your application.  It is very likely that any planning permission will be conditional on these being implemented and so you need to agree these with your consultant before submitting the application.

What should a Wildlife Report include?

The length and scope of the report will vary and should be proportionate to the impacts and size of the project. The report may vary from a short statement (if there are no or minimal impacts) to a comprehensive report with detailed surveys.

If a Wildlife Report is required, this must be commissioned at the start of your project and any project changes are discussed with the consultant. Any impacts on wildlife may influence your project proposals. The County Ecologist has produced a generic brief for the Wildlife Report.

guidance note for consultants has been produced as to what should be included in a Wildlife Report. All Wildlife Reports should also include a Wildlife Checklist.

Once commissioned, the ecological consultant will initially carry out a site walkover survey, which can be carried out at any time of year. If there are no or minimal impacts the Wildlife Report will still need to be submitted but can be a short written statement.

If impacts are identified, the ecologist may have to carry out further survey work, e.g. to clarify the impacts on dormice or bats. These detailed surveys will have to be carried out at certain times of year, which will vary from species to species, and it is important that the surveys are timetabled into your project plan in order to avoid wasting both time and money.

If the proposed development is going to impact on a European Protected Species (such as bats, dormice, otters, great crested newts) you may need a licence from Natural England. Your ecological consultant will provide advice on this as it is separate to the planning process.

Please ensure that the Wildlife Report clearly links and is consistent with other related information, for example, landscape, restoration and aftercare schemes and arboricultural reports.

Remember that you may need other licences or consents outside of the planning system.