Information about Covid19:
Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.

Planning Agents' Area

Please be aware that we are working hard to keep the planning service operating effectively in the face of unprecedented challenges.  We are undertaking site visits on a risk assessed basis where virtual means of assessment are not available.  This is to ensure that we comply with the government guidance on social distancing and to protect our staff and our residents.  We have changed our procedures for Planning Committees, site notices, availability of information by hard copy and office availability.  For more details on our revised processes, please see our FAQs Covid-19 impact on planning processes and bear with us at this difficult time. Thank you for your understanding. 

We have developed this area to provide information from the Planning and Sustainable Development Service. It is designed for Planning Agents who regularly submit planning applications to Cornwall Council. If you think anything is missing or have any feedback please email:

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We have recently started including updates for the development and construction industry in the weekly Covid updates being published by Building Plymouth.  We hope the range of information and articles are helpful in the current difficult circumstances in which we are working.

Average number of working days to validate general and householder planning applications:

The number of days quoted is indicative of when most applications are validated. Some applications may be processed earlier or later.

Recently a fraudster tried to redirect a payment due to us into a different bank account.

On this occasion the customer wasn't taken in when asked to pay to a different account.  In this case the request for payment came from an email address. Cornwall Council uses email addresses. With help from the National Cyber Security Centre and the Police through Action Fraud we have blocked this copycat email address. Please be aware though that fraudsters might use similar website addresses.

The National Cyber Security Centre have developed a simple five steps model called “Cyber Essentials” to help protect you from these cyber attacks.

If you receive a suspicious email claiming to be from Cornwall Council please forward it to Or use the contact details shown on our website.  Never rely on contact details at the bottom of any email. Our internal Cyber Security Team will investigate all suspicious emails.

If you have been the subject of a fraudulent transaction please contact Action Fraud. A team of specialists working with the Police will take direct action.

We would like to remind everyone of the need to keep your computer up to date with software patches and anti-virus/anti-malware. 

Contributions from developers play an important role in delivering the infrastructure that these new homes, and local economies, require.  The mechanisms for securing these contributions are section 106 agreements (S106) and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

Please note that the Planning and Sustainable Development Services fees for discretionary services were increased on 19 August, 2019. The majority of our discretionary fees were increased by 4%, however certain products may have increased by more than that amount on a cost recovery basis, as we propose to set prices at just below the average levied for similar products and services by other authorities across the Country.

We understand from the Planning Portal that some of you may have been sent reminders for payments which have already made to the Portal direct. This has happened since the launch of the Planning Redirect Service. (It is something which they intend to fix within the next few days).  Agents have been phoning Cornwall Council to query payments. However, they will need to contact the Planning Portal to discuss payments for any application submitted to the Planning Portal. Agents can do this by emailing (The Planning Portal a completely separate private company). 

If you decide to submit applications through the Planning Portal please ensure that you pay the Planning Portal and not Cornwall Council. Without this payment the Planning Portal will not release your planning application to the Council.  Due to financial restrictions, Cornwall Council is unable to transfer payments onto the Planning Portal and must refund the original payee which will delay your application.

With effect from 1 November 2019, the planning enforcement function will be separated from the area teams to form a dedicated team of experienced enforcement officers.

Enforcement officers will be aligned to dedicated areas in a similar way to that of the area teams.  This will provide consistency and local knowledge and ensure that Members and local councils will know their local officer.  Officers in the current Cornwall-wide proactive project teams (Enforcement, Trees and Minerals and Waste) and Appeals will continue to be in this Cornwall-wide team.

From 1 November therefore the Area Team approach will comprise:

  • 8 multi-disciplinary planning teams based on a group of community network areas dealing with all types of planning applications and some compliance matters from receipt through to decision;    
  • a Cornwall-wide team of specialist functions, including appeals, enforcement, Highways Development Management and Historic Environment
  • a central function of support services.

As part of the implementation of an area-based planning service, some changes were made to existing processes and some new processes have been introduced.


Prior to the registration and validation of an application, the application goes through a process of Frontscreening. Frontscreening is a relatively quick check of an application to identify if the proposed development is likely to be acceptable i.e. whether it accords in principle with the policies of the Cornwall Local Plan/Neighbourhood Development Plan or whether there would be any other obvious material planning reasons why planning permission is unlikely to be forthcoming. 

If the Planning Case Officer considers that the proposed development is likely to be acceptable, the application will proceed to validation in the normal way.

Alternatively, if the Planning Case Officer considers that the proposed development is unlikely to be acceptable, the applicant/agent will be contacted and given the option of having the application returned with the fee prior to validation (to potentially provide the applicant/agent with time to amend the proposals, submit a pre-application enquiry or prepare additional information) or, if the applicant/agent so wishes, the application can proceed to validation in the normal way in the knowledge that is possible the application will be recommended for refusal.

 Please note the following:

  • Frontscreening is not intended to be a full validation check as this will be completed by the Development Support team in the normal way.
  • Frontscreening is not intended to provide free Pre-Application Advice or a free Validation Checking Service and applicants/agents are encouraged to visit the relevant webpages to access these services.
  • If the application has been submitted via the Planning Portal/iApply, the relevant Financial Transaction Service Fee will not be refunded.

Site visit (carried out on the majority of applications*)

As well as displaying the site notice (if required**), the purpose of the site visit is to visualise the development in the context of its setting. This part of the process is important in understanding the extent of the proposal on the site and the following points are noted:

  • characteristics of the location including terrain, levels, surrounding buildings, and the nature of the area 
  • possible impacts on the neighbours including any loss of light, overlooking and compatibility of uses
  • visual impacts, the effect on the street scene and fitting in with the existing character
  • access
  • appropriate siting
  • environmental impacts such as trees, hedgerows and flooding
  • local facilities
  • sustainability

Checks are made to ensure that the relevant neighbours have been notified. Notes are made, and photos are taken. The date of visit, location of the site notice, and any additional neighbours that have been notified are recorded.

*Except Householder Applications where the case officer may do a site visit, but this may not always be the case.

**If it is known (based on the details contained on the application forms) that an applicant resides on the application site, the applicant will be asked to post the site notice. If the applicant does not reside on the site, or if the applicant fails to post the site notice, the display of site notices is the responsibility of the Case Officer during their site visit. It should be noted that not all types of application require site notices to be posted.

If you have any questions on the Area Team project, please send them to:

The Planning and Sustainable Development Service has produced a Validation Guide (which includes an updated local validation list). This provides applicants and agents with as much information as possible to submit an application ‘right first time’ and avoid any delays at validation or during the planning process.

Main changes include:

  • A single guide for both the public and internal staff.
  • A more concise guide achieved through reducing the amount of duplicated information.
  • Increase in information and guidance achieved through links to useful documents, webpages and guidance
  • More detailed information regarding specific plans with the aim of improving quality

Significant updates have been made with regards to:

  • Contaminated Land
  • Air Quality
  • Noise
  • Odour
  • Affordable Housing
  • Plans

From 1 January 2019 Planning and Sustainable Development will be making some changes to its process and charges. Please see our revised process and changes document for further information.

From 1 January 2019, Cornwall Council will be a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Charging Authority, and any new development determined after this date could be liable to pay a CIL. CIL may also be charged on development approved by way of general consent if it commences after 1 January 2019.  Visit the community infrastructure levy page now to find out how CIL may affect your development.

The Planning and Sustainable Development Service offers an optional Validation Checking Service. This is subject to a fee.  We currently receive a high volume of planning applications that do not meet the local and national requirements. Our intention is to reduce this amount and help speed up the process for our customers.  Please see the Validation Checking Service page for details. This includes fees and how to access the service.

9 out of 10 agents submit applications via the Planning Portal.  If you submit applications via the Planning Portal your documents automatically drop into our back-office system. This gives you immediate assurance that the documents have been received. Submitting applications in this way speeds up our processes.

Applications submitted by alternative means such as by email or in hard copy divert resources to other processes. These enable the documents to be published on-line, which leads to a delay in those applications being validated.

We would therefore encourage you to continue to submit applications in a way that speeds up the process

It has come to our attention there are still a large number of applications being submitted with non-interpretive contaminated land reports.  These are no longer required. However, a Phase I assessment should be submitted – see clarification below.

It is appreciated that there are financial implications in undertaking a Phase I assessment. Clearly any subsequent assessments and remediation works that might be necessary may also have such implications.  However, a Phase I assessment provides preliminary information. It is only requested where potential contamination risks are highlighted for a specific site.  For proposed development with a sensitive/vulnerable end use, where the protection of human health is particularly important, it is considered to be reasonable and consistent with relevant guidance to consider this as part of the determination of a planning application.

Further information can be found in the ‘Land affected by contamination – Developers guide and information requirements for planning applications’.