Planning and building
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Development Management service charter
Development Management service guide
The Development Management service regulates the development and use of land and buildings in accordance with the relevant Planning Acts and the Council’s planning policies.
This guide sets out how the Council operates its Development Management Service in an equitable, timely, consistent and open manner. We aim to facilitate and influence development within the district to achieve high quality, sustainable outcomes and protect and improve the countryside and built environment.
What do development management do?
The main role of Development Management is to:
- Appraise and determine applications for planning permission
- Provide pre-application advice on developments
- Negotiate planning performance agreements on major development
- Determine other types of applications such as lawful development certificates, prior approvals, listed building consents and advertisement consents
- Defend the Council in planning and enforcement appeals
- Provide screening and scoping opinions relating to environmental impact assessments and habitats regulations
- Deal with general enquiries relating to planning for local residents and businesses
It can be very helpful to seek the Council’s advice about your planning proposals before submitting your actual application. This can help to overcome potential difficulties and ensure the application deals with all important planning considerations.
We will aim to respond to you within 4-6 weeks of submission, depending on the complexity of the proposal. However major applications may take significantly longer to deal with. In such instances we will seek to agree appropriate timescales, ideally as part of a PPA.
A meeting with the case officer can be requested, and in some instances may be deemed necessary, but it is the decision of the case officer as to whether a meeting will be held. Other specialist officers may also be in attendance at any necessary meeting, and their time would be charged accordingly. Please note that having a meeting with the case officer may mean that the final response is not provided within 4-6 weeks of submission.
We will, as part of this service, provide an informal without prejudice view on the likelihood of planning permission being granted. We will provide guidance regarding relevant policies, and any information you must submit with the application.
Submitting planning applications
We aim to let you know whether any planning application or other type of approval submitted through the Planning Portal are valid or not within five working days. Applications submitted in hard copy may take longer. We are phasing out the submission of non-electronic submissions.
If additional information is required, in accordance with the councils validation checklist, we will inform you of this in writing and give you three months to provide the necessary information. If all the requirement is not forthcoming we will dispose of the application.
Once registered, we will write to you informing you of the application reference number, the statutory deadline for determination, and where appropriate the case officer handling the application. We will also publish a weekly list on our website of all applications received.
Consulting on planning applications
Once registered, we will consult neighbouring properties in accordance with the Councils adopted Statement of Community Involvement and The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order. In some instances, a site notice will be posted near to the site so that the community is aware.
We will advise you of how to view details of planning applications and any deadlines to submit comments.
Planning applications will usually be assessed and decided based on the information submitted with the application. However, on occasion revised plans or additional information may be requested by the case officer. In most instances a further consultation will take place with regards to any changes to a proposal.
All planning decisions will be made in accordance with the relevant legislation and the Epping Forest District Council Local Plan, taking into account all material planning considerations (where relevant).
Any relevant planning matters raised by neighbours or third-party consultees will be taken into account when reaching a decision.
Planning Officers are unable to provide progress updates during the course of an application. We are unable to advise you of the likely outcome of the application during the course of the application. Revised plans and additional information will not usually be accepted, unless specifically requested by the case officer. We are unlikely to enter into ad-hoc correspondence during the course of an application.
On occasion revised plans or additional information may be requested by the case officer if it may make an otherwise unacceptable scheme acceptable. An extension of time for the statutory deadline for determination may also be required to enable these changes to be provided and considered.
Decisions will be made in accordance with the Councils scheme of delegation, which means that some applications will be decided at the relevant Planning Committee. If your application is to be determined by Planning Committee or you have commented on a planning application that is to be determined by Planning Committee then we will write to you to inform you of the date of committee and how you can participate at least 5 working days prior to the date of the committee.
We will endeavour to issue decisions within the statutory decision deadline where possible, unless otherwise agreed by way of an extension of time.
Once a decision has been made a copy of the decision notice will be made available on the council’s website within 24 hours. For decisions made at committee there may be a delay in publishing the decision, however it should be available on the website no longer than 5 working days after the Committee decision. A copy of the officer’s delegated report should be available to view on the website within 2 working days of the decision, however in some cases may take up to 14 days.
We are keen to encourage positive development in the District and seek to work collaboratively with applicants on large scale developments that accord with the Epping Forest Local Plan.
It is encouraged that a Planning Performance Agreements (PPA) is entered into with regards to large-scale major developments. A PPA is a project management tool that can be used to agree timescales, actions and resources for handling applications. Through a PPA a bespoke service can be offered that provides specialist support and expertise relevant to your proposal. The cost of the service is calculated on the basis of hourly rates of the officers and experts who provide the advice.
The benefits of entering a PPA are:
- Certainty of timescales for reaching a decision and a specific committee date to work towards
- A project managed application process that includes a range of professionals involved in the determination of your application
- The opportunity to discuss changes to proposals as they arise
- The cost of pre-application advice, and resident engagement is included
- Access to officers and consultees to enable constructive discussion on planning applications
- Named officer contact.
A PPA can be entered into at pre-application and/or planning application stage and would be negotiated and agreed between all relevant parties. This will set out timescales for reaching key milestones and decisions. Whilst it is not necessary to enter into a PPA for large scale major applications, if no PPA has been agreed then any major planning application is likely to be considered on the information submitted, and it is unlikely that there will be an opportunity for amending the proposal, or to meet with the case officer to discuss the merits of the application.
We are unlikely to accept revised plans or additional information unless specifically requested by the case officer. A major application that is not subject to a PPA will be decided within its statutory decision deadline, where possible.
Officers will reply to emails where a reply is required within 10 working days.
Officers will reply to a voice mail message that requires a response within 2 working days. However, you must leave your name, telephone number, short details of what you wish to discuss, and the address to which this relates. If sufficient information is not provided then you may not get a reply.
At times our officers may be away from the office. In such instances an out of office message will be provided with the anticipated date of return. During this time we may not be able to answer case-specific enquiries, and you are advised to contact us via
Officers will be able to help you with the following:
- Explaining national and local planning policy and processes.
- Giving general advice on how the council interprets permitted development rights.
- Explaining application drawings on current planning applications.
- Discussing planning policies or constraints that could affect an application, such as being in the Green Belt or in a conservation area.
Officers will not be able to:
- Provide an opinion on whether planning permission would or would not be granted. Any such queries would have to be informed by a pre-application submission.
- Provide “running commentary” or updates on current applications. This includes providing information on any consultation responses.
- Advise neighbours on what they should or should not object to.
- Discuss the technical merits of any applications, refusals or appeals.
- Agree to minor amendments to planning permissions. These would need to be submitted as a non-material amendment or minor-material amendment application.
- Determine whether planning permission is required for a proposal. You would need to seek advice from a planning professional and/or apply for a lawful development certificate.
- Accept complaints against an alleged breach of planning permission. These would need to be formally submitted by reporting a planning breach online.
- Discuss planning enforcement enquiries.
- Provide updates on the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC). Any updates will be published on the Council’s website.
- Answer building regulations enquiries. Visit our building control section on our website