Types of planning applications

Outline applications

These establish the principle of development with details reserved for later consideration. The ‘reserved matters’ cover (1) the means of access; (2) the layout of features; (3) the scale of buildings; (4) the appearance of buildings and spaces; and (5) the landscaping of the site. Outline applications can be made with all matters reserved, or with up to 4 matters to be considered.

Assessment will establish whether a satisfactory form of development could be advanced at the reserved matters stage. The consideration of flood risk and drainage, likely effect on biodiversity and heritage assets, impacts on existing infrastructure, and housing tenure are all relevant considerations. Conditions and/or planning obligations can be used, including to set parameters for the reserved matters, but conditions duplicating detail required by or appropriate for the reserved matters cannot be attached.

Reserved matters applications

Submitted subsequent to an outline permission, these seek approval of one or more of the reserved matters. A reserved matter can also be considered in part. Where the matter has already been considered in full at the outline stage, a reserved matters application cannot vary that detail, nor can the principle of development or other issues be reconsidered (e.g. impact on existing infrastructure). Separate applications can be submitted for each reserved matter.

Full applications (including householder applications)

These establish the principle and detail of a development. They also cover householder extensions and changes of use. Much of the guidance relating to outline and reserved matters applications applies. Conditions and/or planning obligations can be used to mitigate impacts, secure finer detail (e.g. drainage detail or facing materials) and control uses (e.g. by limiting permitted development rights).

Lawful Development Certificates (LDCs) (also known as Certificates of Lawfulness)

Used to establish if an existing or proposed development is lawful in planning terms. Assessment rests on whether, based on the facts of the case, the specific matter is or would be lawful, testing whether the matter is an act of development and, if so, if permission exists for the development. Planning merits and policies in the Development Plan are not relevant, so impacts cannot be considered. If the Council is satisfied that, on the balance of probability, the appropriate tests are met, it must grant an LDC to confirm that:

  1. an existing use, building works, or breach of a planning condition, is lawful for planning purposes;
  2. a proposed use or building works would be lawful for planning purposes; or
  3. proposed works to a listed building would not affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed Building Consent (LBC)

For when work to a listed building is proposed. Consideration is limited to the effect on the desirability of preserving the listed building or its setting (or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses). Other considerations, such as the effect on highway safety, are not relevant.

Tree works

Consent is required for works affecting trees protected under a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). These are assessed against the amenity value of the tree(s) and whether the works are in the best interests of the health of the tree(s). Heritage or biodiversity issues can occasionally be relevant. Notification is also required for works to, or removal of, trees above a certain size within a conservation area.

Advertisement consent

Applications must be considered solely with respect to visual amenity and public safety. These applications do not have to be made in conjunction with a ‘host’ application, such as a new shopfront.

Prior notification and Prior approval

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (‘the GPDO’) grants permission for various works and changes of use, subject to a prior notification or prior approval.

Prior notifications are normally limited to agricultural or forestry development or demolition of non-heritage buildings. A limited period exists for the Council to require the submission of specific detail, such as proposed materials.

For prior approvals, a range of building works and changes of use benefit from the ‘in principle’ permission and the Council is limited to considering certain, specified impacts. The Council may also consider whether the proposal complies with criteria set out in the GPDO.

Approval of details required by condition (discharge of condition)

The scope of a decision is confined to confirming whether the details provided are satisfactory to address the requirements of the condition. It is possible for multiple applications to be made, to allow for the phased delivery of sites, or to allow for revisions to previously approved details.

Variation/removal of conditions (including minor material amendments)

These applications seek to vary the wording of, or remove, one or more conditions attached to a permission or consent. Minor material amendments usually seek to vary the condition listing the approved plans. Assessment must be confined to the subject matter of the condition(s) and cannot be used to reassess the principle of development.

An approval results in a fresh permission, separate to the original permission. The decision notice will carry all other conditions which remain relevant, adjusted to reflect any progress on site and whether prior approval requirements have been satisfied. Planning obligations are ‘carried forward’ through a revised or existing section 106 agreement.

Non-material amendments

These do not have a material effect on the development. This is a matter of judgement and is assessed against the original permission. As long as the effect is non-material, these applications can be used to vary the description of a development, approved plans, or introduce/vary the wording of a condition.

Retrospective applications

A retrospective application is considered in the same manner as one made in advance. These can be submitted on request, following an enforcement complaint, or under due diligence of the applicant. It does not mean that permission will be automatically given, although likely success of taking enforcement action (expediency) is a material planning consideration. The above guidance applies, as far as relevant to the application, although it is not possible for retrospective prior notifications/approvals to be made.