Planning - development control
Development control regulates the development and use of land. We cover planning applications and enforcement action. We monitor new developments and give advice about the planning system generally. We do not have control over building practices or property law.
Most planning applications are not contentious and are decided by our staff in accordance with the councils delegation agreement. However, large or potentially contentious applications are usually decided by panels of councillors.
We strive to provide the best service possible, but some planning applications can be complex and subject to variations in procedure. This can increase the time taken to make a decision. Delays can also develop for reasons outside our control.
What does the Development Control service offer?
We consider all applications for development, including changes of use of buildings, and for such things as the display of advertising and work to listed buildings
- We give general advice on whether permission is needed and on design, listed buildings, conservation areas and trees affected by development
- We give advice to encourage high quality applications, sustainable development and as smooth a passage through the planning system as possible
- Where resources permit, we will try to negotiate an acceptable plan rather than refuse an unacceptable application without discussion
- We consult with local people who may be affected by development proposals
- We monitor development as it proceeds
- We handle reports of breaches of planning control
Making Your Views Known - A guide to commenting on planning applications
Making your views known
Our surroundings are in a process of constant change. Old buildings are demolished and replaced. Changes are made even to buildings familiar to generations of local people. Sometimes the changes are cosmetic such as a new advertising sign for a shop. Sometimes they are more substantial such as an extension or constructing an entirely new building.
Changes to buildings are governed by planning law. In most cases the developer needs to apply to the Council for planning permission before the changes can be made and in all cases the Council has to consider the application seriously.
We all have our own views on what makes a good or bad planning application. You don't need to own a property to make a planning application and you don't need to be a neighbour to object. No matter how trivial, major or outrageous you may think an application is, you have the right to object.
How do I comment?
Your objections or support for a planning application should be made to the Council in writing. We will accept your comments as late as possible but you are advised to try to reach us within the deadline set in our letters and notices to guarantee consideration of your views.
When we receive your letter, we are more likely to acknowledge receipt if you provide us with an email address. This email address will be used to let you know the next stage. Your comments or objections are not confidential. They form part of the public record when we consider the application and can be seen by the applicant.
You may also be able to speak directly to councillors at a plans meeting - see 'Who makes the decision' below for details.
By law, we can only take your objections into account if they address relevant planning considerations. Relevant considerations include:
- Is the new building or proposed use appropriate to the area?
- Is the appearance of the new building satisfactory?
- Will the development cause pollution, noise, flooding or other environmental problems?
- Will there be loss of light to important rooms?
- Will the development overlook and create loss of privacy?
- Will the building appear bulky, overbearing or out of scale with neighbouring properties?
- Is road safety or public footpaths adversely affected?
In other words, will the development make the area a less pleasant place in which to live or work. Loss of value to your property, motives or circumstances of the applicant, or any impact upon private rights, covenants or matters covered by other legislation are not relevant planning considerations. Generally, we are not able to enter into correspondence about the issues you raise.
The greater proportion of planning applications are decided by our planning officers. Only the most significant or controversial proposals are submitted to councillors on our planning committees plus those councillors call to committee as special cases. If your comments are on an application due to go to a planning committee we will do our best to let you know the date and venue of the meeting.
There is a right for three speakers to put their cases directly to planning committees, one for the applicant, one for the objectors and one for the local parish or town council. You will need to let us know by 4pm at the latest on the day before the meeting if you wish to speak. A leaflet - Your Voice Your Choice - gives more information on speaking at meetings.
However the application is decided, we will notify everyone who wrote to us of the decision.
If a planning application is granted approval, there is no right of appeal by objectors. However, if an application is refused, or if conditions are placed upon permission or the application is not considered within a certain timescale, the applicant can appeal. The decision is then taken out of the hands of the Council and given to a Government appointed Planning Inspector.
If we wrote to you or you made comments or an objection to an original planning application that then goes to appeal, we will write again to ask if you wish to make further comments to the Planning Inspector. However, there is an exception - due to changes in the Planning Act, we will write and inform you of a ‘householder appeal’ (extensions or outbuildings to dwellings), but you cannot make further comments. In all cases though, we will still send your original letter.
You can see us by visiting the Planning Reception on the second floor of the Civic Offices in Epping. You can look at a planning application at any time between 9.00 and 13.00. Without an appointment, case officers to help and advise you are usually only available from 9am to 10.30am but a duty planning officer is available up to 1pm.
Try to make your written comments clear and concise. Anonymous objections carry very little weight so please give your name and address.
You can also contact your local district councillor(s) online, or by telephone at 01992 464288 or from our Information Centres.
You are encouraged to copy any correspondence to your local Town or Parish Council. They do not decide the planning application but are a consultee. Your local council details are also available through our website or Information Centres.
New guidance on consultation from the Environment Agency
Please note the new guidelines on consultation from the Environment Agency in respect of the recent changes under Class J of the GPDO concerning changes of use from offices to residential.