The Planning Application Process

Worcester City Council decides upon approximately 800 applications a year and is required to do so within National Government set timescales currently 8 weeks for minor development, 13 for major development and 16 weeks for applications accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment. 

To help understanding of the Planning Application Process, a flowchart and a guidance note "The Planning Process Explained" have been created. This document combined with the information below on the stages an application undertakes provides a background into how the City Council decides applications.

Applying

The City Council has provided advice on how to apply for planning permission for anyone considering making an application. This information provides advice on application fees, forms and submission requirements.

Registration & Validation

The City Council strives to register applications within 3 working days; the registration phase includes assigning a reference number to an application, checking the correct fee has been paid and entering the application into the Council's Planning Database.

Validation is where the City Council decides whether it has the correct and adequate supporting information to understand and fairly decide a planning application and identifies planning constraints on which consultees need consulting for their views.  

For further information on this stage please review The Planning Process Explained

Consultation & Advertisement

For the majority of applications, the City Council is required to consult statutory and non statutory consultees and notify neighbouring occupiers. This is completed in accordance with the National Government Regulations for statutory consultation and City Council's Statement of Community Involvement.  In most cases, neighbouring occupiers are notified originally by post should their property adjoin the application site, advice on commenting on planning applications should be reviewed prior to providing comments. In all cases the initial period for consultation responses to be received is 21 days

The City Council is also required to advertise certain applications by way of a site notice in the vicinity of the application site and an advert in a Local Newspaper (Worcester Standard). The City Council provides advice on the types of applications that require site notices and publishes a weekly list of the applications advertised in the Local Newspaper.

Consideration

The sites of all applications are visited by the case officer, who will check the information submitted. They will also check that the site notice has been displayed (if required) and that neighbour notification letters have been sent to the correct addresses. The case officer will take many issues into account when considering an application: local and national planning policies, views of other council or County Council services like Housing and Highways, views of external bodies like The Environment Agency, comments received from local people – (objecting to an application will not automatically mean that it will be refused).

The Case Officer will then come to a balanced view, if required, they may seek amendments to deal with any issues raised or to improve the application, and further consultation on amendments may take place. The Case Officer will then prepare a report setting out their recommendation.

Reaching a Decision

Decisions on Planning Applications are made in two ways either under Delegated Powers or by the Planning Committee .

A decision under Delegated Powers is taken by senior officers who Councillors have given powers to decide Planning Applications under certain circumstances called the scheme of delegation. In this event, a recommendation made by the case officer is considered by a senior officer and a decision on the application is reached.

Planning Committee is made up of 12 elected members who sit once a month and make decisions on applications that are usually major applications, applications made by the City Council and applications ‘called-in' by ward councillors.  Please note that The City Council only advises neighbouring residents of Planning Committee meetings when they have specifically asked to be notified.

Following the grant of planning permission either under delegated powers or by the Planning Committee a decision notice is issued. This document provides the applicant with a confirmation of the decision reached and sets out the conditions of their approval and reasons why their application has been refused depending on the decision.

Post Decision

If your application is granted, you may be required to discharge any conditions placed on your approval some of these could be pre-commencement. It is essential that any pre-commencement conditions are discharged prior to commencing works, failure to do so could result in the loss of your permission. Discharging conditions requires the submission of a formal application.

We understand circumstances change and plans may need amendments after your decision has been issued. The National Government guidance gives information on how to apply for amendments and relevant application forms are available via the Planning Portal.

Please note that Building Regulations may be required for any development, we recommend that you consult South Worcestershire Building Control to discuss your requirements.

If your application has been recommended for refusal by the City Council, you are able to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.