What happens after you have submitted a planning application | Colchester Borough Council

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What happens after you have submitted a planning application

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The process we follow after you have submitted a Planning Application


  • What happens when we first receive an application
  • Who we consult when making a planning decision
  • What we analyse and how we produce our report
  • How long it takes for us to make a decision

On receipt of a planning application, we will check to make sure it's complete as soon as possible. This is called a "validation" check.


An application should contain:

  • Information requested from the application form
  • National information requirements, including scaled drawings, the correct fee and sometimes other documents like a design and access statement
  • Information specified on our local validation list

If you don't provide all the required information, we will notify you with a deadline for providing the missing information. If that is not met we will return your application.

If we have all the required information, the application will be added to the planning register and then given a reference number. You will be given a case officer who will oversee your application.

Read more on the Planning Portal


We will publish the planning application on our website, including details such as the address of the proposed development, when the consultation period expires and when a decision is expected.

Comment on an application

We may notify immediate neighbours, the parish, town or community council as well as other bodies such as the County Council, the Environment Agency, the Highways Authority or Historic England.

We also have internal consultations with other officers who have expertise in certain areas such as Archaeology, Urban Design, Contaminated Land and Landscaping.

Read more on the Planning Portal

We will then review the application in order to make a decision.

All our decisions are made based on The Local Plan. This is the strategy for the future development of the local area.

The following are just a few of the "material planning considerations" that we look at when considering an application:

  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Impact on trees, landscaping and wildlife
  • Highway safety
  • The planning history of the site
  • All forms of pollution such as noise, fumes and contamination
  • Heritage conservation
  • Creating opportunities for new employment or affordable housing

Site Visit

We will visit the site to assess the impact the application will have on the surrounding area.

We will collect data to take back and analyse. We will usually take several photographs and notes.

The length of the site visit depends on the complexity of the planning application.

Usually no appointment will be made unless you indicate that one is essential to access the site.


We will start to analyse any relevant issues we have identified.

We begin to consider the responses received to see what issues the general public have made. This includes the responses from the external bodies we consulted with and other colleagues.

The application will usually be considered on the basis that it is submitted against Local Plan policies, national guidance and other relevant material planning considerations.

If we can see that a minor amendment would resolve problems or enhance the final build we may contact you or your agent to discuss the suggested changes.

We may ask you to enter into an agreement to extend the time limit for the decision if this would allow for improvements we have identified.

Where the changes would be significant, we may advise you to withdraw the application.

We may refuse an application without any discussion or negotiation.

You are ultimately responsible for making sure the application has the highest change of approval before you submit it.

We offer pre-application advice if you are unsure. What's this?

Read more on the Planning Portal

Report Making

We will begin to prepare a report that details all of the considerations and analysis.

This report will set out the planning history of the site, the main issues that have to be taken into account, the policy framework within which the application must be decided and various other factors.

It will consider the comments of everyone who has responded to the consultation phase and balance all of the issues that will affect the decision.

Decision Making

When the report is finished, a recommended decision is passed to a senior qualified planner to check based on planning law.

They may have the authority to issue the decision, provided they also agree with the recommendation to approve or refuse.

No Officer can issue a permission without a countersignature agreeing with their recommendation and checking that it is correct. This is called a “delegated decision”.

Delegated decisions are where the Planning Committee have given responsibility to certain officers to authorise decisions under delegation due to their position, experience and qualifications.

Read more on the Planning Portal

If the application is complex, has a lot of objections or public interest, or is “called in” by a Ward Councillor, we may present a recommended decision to the Planning Committee.

This is made up of elected Councillors who have been trained to make planning decisions on behalf of the Council.

Only these elected Councillors can vote on the planning application itself.

Planning Committee meetings normally take place on a Thursday at 6pm in the Council Chamber in the Town Hall. You will have the opportunity to speak in these meetings.

How long will it take?

Most planning applications, such as householder and other small applications, will be decided within 8 weeks.

These will usually be delegated unless a Ward Councillor calls them in to be heard by the Committee.

Larger or complex applications will be decided within 13 weeks.

These are more likely to go to the Planning Committee for a decision.

Applications with an Environmental Impact Assessment will be decided within 16 weeks.

In most cases these will go to the Planning Committee for a decision.

Where amendments or additional information is required, the deadlines can be extended to resolve issues with agreement. Therefore deadlines may be pushed back. This will be shown on our website.

Read more on the Planning Portal


If you have employed an agent or architect to act on your behalf, we will direct all communication through them.

Otherwise you can contact the Planning Officer allocated to the application.

Has your application been approved or refused?

Is permission approved or refused?

What Happens After You Apply

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