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How to respond to planning applications

Planning deals with all types of development from the construction of wind farms to your neighbour’s porch extension.

Anyone can comment on a planning application even if you do not live near to the application site. 

If you haven't been involved in the planning process before then you might like to have a look at the Plain English guide to the planning system.

How do I know when an application has been made?

Once a planning application has been registered, the relevant parties will be told and letters will be sent to the immediate neighbours giving 21 days to comment.  A decision on the application cannot be taken until the expiry of the 21 day public consultation period. 

The Local Planning Authority is required to make decisions within eight weeks for most applications and thirteen weeks for major developments.

Comments can still be received after the 21 day consultation period and will be included in the officer assessment provided the decision has not been issued. However, early return of your comments is recommended, preferably prior to the 21 day consultation period to ensure your views are made known to the case officer for inclusion in their assessment of the proposals and to enable the case officer to act upon the comments you made ie request further information/reports/surveys within the life cycle of the application.

Pre-applications are now available to view on the online planning register. They are not under legal consultation and notification rules and may not contain detailed information as they are only in the early stages.  Pre-applications will have PREAPP as the end of the reference number.

How do I comment on a planning application?

Comment on a planning application online

You can comment on a planning application online using the link above, by email at or by letter to the local planning office.  Comments should be made within 21 days however, they can be accepted after this time but may not be considered when a decision is made.  

Any comments which are made online or in writing will be published on the Council’s website for everyone to see, this will include your name and address. Please note that confidential or anonymous comments will not be considered.

When making a comment please make sure that it is not offensive, harmful or untrue, if it is, your comment will be removed from the website.  You are responsible for any statements that you make.

Appropriate checks will be made to ensure the authenticity of online accounts and comments posted. Any account or comments found to be fraudulant will be removed.

Help commenting online  

The following video shows how to make a comment online. 

Commenting on a pre-application planning enquiry

Whilst details of pre-application planning enquiries have been made public via the online planning register, because they are not planning applications they are not subject to the statutory consultation or notification requirements. Your comments are not being sought at this stage.  Should a formal pre-application community engagement forum be held, feedback from all attendees at a forum will be taken into account in the case officer's pre-application response.  Any comments from interested parties after a Forum should be sent direct to the applicant/agent and not to the Council as this is at pre-application stage.  Details of the Council's updated process for Community Engagement can be found on the pre-application advice page.  Please note this process is due to commence in May 2017.

If following the advice given in response to a pre-application request a developer submits a planning application, there will then be an opportunity to comment.

You will not be notified of an application unless your property boundary is next to the proposed development site. You can check to see if an application has been received using the Council’s on-line planning register, or register to receive an e-mail notification should an application be submitted.

Alternatively you may wish to contact the applicant/agent direct beforehand using their details provided on-line, to make them aware of your concerns.

What should my comments include?

Your comments can only be properly considered if you give reasons which relate to the planning application and to planning matters.

When considering a planning application it is not whether owners and tenants of nearby properties would experience financial or other loss from a development, but whether the proposal would affect the local buildings and facilities as well as the existing use of land and buildings which should be protected.

Planning applications need to be judged in accordance with adopted development plan documents unless there are relevant planning considerations which suggest otherwise.  Some examples of what are relevant planning considerations and what are not are outlined in the table below.  It is important that your comments stick to the points shown on the left hand side of the table.

Issues that are considered relevant in planning decisions

Relevant considerations

Planning considerations which are not relevant        

  • Local Development Framework
  • Development Plan documents
  • Supplementary planning documents
  • The Statement of Community Involvement
  • The annual monitoring report
  • Government planning guidance
  • The Council’s corporate policies
  • Highway safety and traffic levels
  • Noise, disturbance and smells resulting from the proposed development
  • Design, appearance and layout
  • Conservation of buildings, trees and open land
  • Flood risk
  • Impact on the appearance of the area
  • Effect on the level of daylight and privacy of existing property
  • Need to safeguard the countryside or protected species of plant or animal
  • Planning case law and previous decisions
  • The need for the development
  • The planning history of the site
  • Private property rights such as covenants
  • The developer's identity, morals or motives 
  • Effect on the value of your property
  • Loss of a private view
  • Private neighbour disputes

How are a number of letters with the same text processed?

If your letter is one of a number of letters with the same text, it will be scanned and made available on the online planning register in the “documents tab”.

If we receive a large number of letters it will not be possible to add all names to the “comments” tab or for each individual letter to be included in the number of comments. However, each letter will be seen by the officer and the points raised will be included when looking at the application.


What about a petition?

If you think a lot of people agree with you about a planning application you can organise a petition.

If you decide to organise a petition, please make sure that:

  • it clearly says the purpose of the petition
  • it gives the reasons why people are supporting or objecting to the application
  • the names and addresses of the people signing the petition can be easily read
  • there is a contact name and address for the person organising the petition

Petitions can support as well as oppose planning proposals and will be published on the Council’s website.  Petition organisers will be responsible for ensuring consent has been obtained for those who complete the petition to share their data with those bodies with whom you intend to share the petition. This is in accordance with the provisions of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

You can find further information on the Information Commissioner's website. If it is not clear that you have obtained explicit consent of signatories to share their data with us and publish their personal information on our website we will not be able to publish the petition in full.  

What happens after I submit my comments?

If you submit your comments online using the online planning register you can track the updates to the application and will be told when a decision has been made.  To do this you need to log into your account, go to the application and then select “track”.

Please note that we are no longer able to notify those submitting representations that applications are being referred to Planning Committee, but if you wish to follow the progress of a planning application you can sign up to alerts from the Online Planning Register by tracking the application.  Procedures for this are available on our website, together with procedures to follow if you wish to speak at Planning Committee. 

Most applications are dealt with under delegated powers where the decision is made by a senior officer, however, some applications will be referred to the relevant area-based Planning Sub Committee and applications which could have a large affect on Cornwall will go to the Strategic Planning Committee. Further information can be found via the links below.

What else can I do?

Contact your local Councillor – Your local councillor can help you understand the planning process and will work closely with officers within the Council.  You may wish to speak to your local councillor about your views on an application as well as speaking to the local planning office.

Contact your Local Council - Parish and Town Councils are spoken to about planning applications in their area.  If you have an opinion about an application you can tell the local council as well as the local planning office.

Find out more about the role of local councils in planning.

Do I have a right to appeal if I disagree with the decision?

Neighbours or other relevant parties cannot appeal against a decision once it had been made.  The only person with a right to appeal is the applicant.  If the applicant does appeal everyone who has written to the Council concerning the appeal proposal will be told in writing.