Planning Frequently Asked Questions
This page answers some of your most common questions about planning – including whether you need planning permission, how much it costs – and points you to the right part of our website for further information.
Further information is also available in our Planning Guide
Fees for planning and related applications are set nationally. For a guide to the appropriate fee for your application, see Planning Application Fees (pdf 86Kb).
How do I know what is happening with my application?
We will register your application and send you an acknowledgement letter with details of the case officer (the officer who will be looking after your application). We will visit your site and put up a site notice, which needs to stay up for a minimum of 21 days. We will also consult your neighbours sharing a common boundary, as well as other relevant consultees (for example the highway authority). If we have any issues or questions, the case officer will contact you or your agent. When a decision has been made, a decision notice will be sent to you or your agent. This will tell you whether you can go ahead or if it has been refused.
You can track the progress of your application online, and all non-sensitive correspondence will be published on-line using our Public Access system.
How is a decision made on an application?
The case officer will consider the views of neighbours and other relevant parties such as the parish council and highways before making a decision. In some cases, your application will be decided at this point by the officers acting under delegated powers. Others may need to go to the Planning Committee which is where councillors make the final decision.
How can I have my say on an application?
You can either comment online or write to the council at the address in the Where do I go for further advice section below.
Please note - If your comments are made outside of the minimum 21 day consultation period required by legislation, they will still be taken into account if received at least 2 days before the decision's taken. That said, if comments are made outside of the 21 day period we cannot guarantee a decision hasn't already been made on an application, and clearly the sooner comments are received the quicker they can be acted upon.
For major schemes, whilst the 21 day period still exists, in reality a decision may not be made for several more weeks. In those circumstances you are advised to monitor progress of the case on the Public Access System.
We try to ensure that personal information supplied by the applicant or by those making representations cannot be used to engage in identity theft. However, it should be noted that the name and address of the applicant and those making representations will be made public unless you specifically request the redaction of this information. If you do request the redaction of your name and address then your comments will be treated as anonymous. The weight given to anonymous comments may be reduced.
Can I make changes to my application during the process?
Yes, you can make minor changes up to 5 weeks into the process but major ones could lead to long delays. If you want to make major changes, you should consider withdrawing your application and starting again with a new one. The case officer will be able to advise you on this.
This will either require a complete new planning application, or if the changes are very minor in nature, and have no real impact on the development already approved or your neighbours, then it can be dealt with as a ‘non-material amendment’. This is still a formal process but is less involved and quicker. A planning officer will be able to give you more advice on this process.
What happens once I have my planning permission?
You may need to discharge conditions attached to your permission. These may require you to submit further details or carry out aspects of the development in a certain way.
Conditions are an integral part of the permission and care should be taken to properly discharge them. For further information on conditions, see our General Advice Note on Discharging Conditions (pdf 32.8Kb). To apply to remove conditions attached to planning permission, please complete a Discharge of Condition Application Form (pdf 160Kb).
There is a nationally set modest fee for the council to discharge conditions and you should allow sufficient time for them to be discharged before commencing development. For information on the fees associated with conditions, see Planning Application Fees (pdf 86Kb).
If you are not happy about a condition on your permission you can appeal against this, see our Planning Appeals page. The Planning Portal also contains guidance on the appeal process. For more information, see the Planning Portal - Guidance on the Appeal Process.
Can I appeal against a refusal of planning permission?
Yes, but only if you are the applicant. For further details please visit our Planning Appeals page.
Can I view other people’s applications?
Yes, all planning applications can be seen online or at the council offices. We also publish a weekly list of new planning applications so you can see details of the most recent applications made. To search for new applications where you live – plus lots more – see our Public Access system.
Should I seek professional advice?
This is not a requirement, but submitting all the correct information can be a complicated process and it may be a good idea for more involved applications or if you are unsure of the process. Further guidance on the requirements for various types of planning applications is available from our Application Forms page.
What if my neighbour has built something without planning permission?
Not all works require permission, but some do. If you are concerned about a potentially unauthorised development please fill out a Suspected Breach of Planning Control eForm, or you can contact our Enforcement team in writing, by phone or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that we cannot accept anonymous complaints although any letters received are kept confidential. To learn about how we deal with unauthorised development, visit our Planning Enforcement pages.
What happens if I tell the council about something being built?
Our Enforcement officers will look into the matter and will let you know what is happening.
What are Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas?
A Listed Building is given special protection because of its ‘special architectural or historic interest’. A separate Listed Building consent is required before any works (internal & external) can take place which could affect the building’s character.
Conservation Areas are areas of ‘special architectural or
historic interest, with a character or appearance that is desirable
to preserve or enhance’. Any new development should be of a quality
that protects these areas.
What is the difference between Planning and Building Control?
Planning looks at the principle of development on a site and considers the use of the land and its impacts. Building Control looks at the technical side of the proposed work, and considers issues such as health and safety. In essence then Planning determines whether development can go ahead and in what format, whereas Building Control deals with the specific details of construction. They are two separate regimes and it is likely that you will need both Planning Permission and Building Regulations approval for your development.
How do I find out who owns a piece of land?
We do not have records of land ownership, only the information submitted by applicants as part of an application, and we cannot become involved in legal disputes over land ownership or take such disputes into account in determining applications. The Land Registry is a good place to start for ownership issues but otherwise you may have to seek legal advice.
Is my house/land within the settlement boundary?
Due to the position of the Local Development Framework, establishing this is not as easy as we would like at this particular moment in time. The following is a step-by-step process:
1. Find where your settlement sits in the Settlement Hierarchy of the Core Strategy (http://www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/pdf/Places.pdf);
2. If your settlement falls into one of the following categories of the Settlement Hierarchy:
- Sub-regional Centre;
- Main Towns;
- Settlements adjacent to King’s Lynn or the Main Towns;
- Key Rural Service Centres; or
- Rural Villages
Then you need to look at the Local Plan Maps which show the current settlement boundaries (http://www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/pdf/Places.pdf). It is also pertinent to look at the Site Specific Allocations and Policies Issues and Options Document as this shows potential changes to these boundaries (which in later documents are referred to as Development Boundaries). These changes are not yet adopted but are worth being aware and can be found on our Site Allocation and Policies webpage.
3. If your settlement falls into the category of Smaller Village and Hamlet then no settlement or development boundaries exist. This is because these settlements are not considered to be sustainable locations for growth (development) and therefore the Local Planning Authority is strategically steering development to more sustainable locations (i.e. locations higher up the Settlement Hierarchy). It should be noted that the removal of these boundaries does not affect your Permitted Development Rights.
Where do I go for further advice?
Contacting Planning for general advice
Many straightforward queries can be dealt with by our Customer Services Team, and they will attempt to deal with your enquiry in the first instance.
However, if you still need to speak to a planning officer the Duty Planner Service only operates on a Tuesday and Thursday between 9am and 1pm as follows:
You can call at any time between 9am-1pm, and our Customer Services will either leave a message for the Duty Planner to call you back (if they are not available for example dealing with appointments), or they will put you directly through to the Duty Planner
9.30am - 11am – By appointment only
You can book a 10 minute appointment with the duty planner by ringing our Customer Services. Appointments can only be booked in advance and not on the day.
If you are attending an appointment, when you arrive you need to let the staff on reception know and they will tell the duty planner you have arrived.
Last updated: 07 April 2016