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Calculating  Floor Space for Commerical/Non-residential Development

Guidance Note - 13/02/17

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It is commonly acknowledged that planning-related fees were introduced so that users of the planning system, rather than taxpayers in general, meet the costs incurred by local planning authorities in deciding planning applications.  The Planning Practice Guide states that the local planning authority must decide the fee which will apply to the application based on the category, or categories of development if the application is for more than one type of development and we usually find that our customers are happy to pay the identified planning application fees that allow the Local Planning Authority to consider and determine their applications.

Advice has been sought from DCLG and other Authorities regarding what is considered 'floor space' when calculating the fee for commercial applications.  The Town and Country Planning (Fee for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012, Schedule 1, Part 1, Chapter 3, Paragraph 12(1) states 'gross floor space to be created by the development shall be ascertained by external measurement of the floor space, whether or not it is to be bounded (wholly or partly) by external walls of a building'.

Cornwall Council will therefore be charging for the following areas in relation to commercial/non-residential developments:

  • Terraces
  • Balconies
  • Stores/Bin Stores
  • Enclosed external areas e.g. compounds and external sales areas (this also includes areas where the proposed development creates an enclosed area as a result of building works and this area becomes usable space e.g. quadrants within schools and office buildings)
  • Perimeter wall thickness and projections (party walls are to be measured to their centre line)
  • Areas occupied by internal walls and partitions
  • Columns
  • Piers
  • Chimney breasts
  • Stairwells and the like
  • Lift rooms
  • Plant rooms
  • Tank rooms
  • Fuel stores
  • Open sided covered areas e.g. car ports
  • Enclosed car parking areas

When calculating floor space what is considered 'usable space' should be considered.

The Planning Reception at Circuit House, permanently closed on Monday 3 October 2016 and instead adopted the procedures operated at the Camborne One Stop Shop and Chy Trevail, Bodmin offices. 

Hard copy applications will be accepted at each of the three main Planning offices:

There is no change to applications submitted electronically through iApply or Planning Portal.  These will continue to be the preferred methods for applicants and agents to use when submitting planning applications to the Service. 


  • General Planning Enquiries - 0300 1234 151

Building Control

  • Registration and Plan Check Team: 01872 224792
    For pre-application advice, to make an application or to arrange an appointment to come into the Truro office.
  • East Area Site Inspection Team: 01208 265658
    To arrange a site inspection or to discuss a project that is in progress on site.
  • West Area Site Inspection Team: 01209 614420 
    To arrange a site inspection or to discuss a project that is in progress on site.

Further information is available at: www.cornwall.gov.uk/buildingcontrol

Land Charges

  • General Number: 01872 224201
  • Highways Team: 01872 224775

Personal Search Agents requiring access to our records will continue to email planning@cornwall.gov.uk so that an appointment can be made to view the records in the usual way.

Please note that Fees for Planning discretionary services are due to increase by 4.9% on 1st April, 2017.

A review of the Council’s planning service, carried out by a group of “peers” from other local authorities, has highlighted a number of key strengths within the service as well as areas where further improvements are needed.

Cornwall Council is committed to delivering high standards in all area of its planning service. While the service has historically met high standards of performance, it is currently facing a number of significant challenges.  To help address these issues, Members invited the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Planning Advisory Service (PSA) to work with the Council to identify areas for improvement.

A team of six “peers” took part in the planning improvement peer challenge, including officers and Members from District and County Councils, and representatives from the LGA and the PSA.  During the challenge period the team spoke to a wide range of Members, officers and representatives of key partners, as well as attending a number of committee meetings.

Further information and supporting documents can be found via the Planning Improvement Board page. 

Here are some planning questions and answers which came from Community Network Areas in Cornwall.

1. Please can you provide information on how to sign up for email alerts for planning applications?

  • Open the Cornwall Council Website – www.cornwall.gov.uk
  • In the top right hand side is an option to register
  • Follow the instructions and wait for the confirmation email to verify your account
  • Log onto your account and access the planning on-line register
  • Make a search for your required area – be that along your road or for the entire parish (advanced search options) please note that if your post code is for example TR1 1CC and you enter this as a search it will only show the properties with this post code however if you leave off the last letter it will cover a much broader area.
  • Once you have made your search you will be given an option to save your search and to receive updates – if you check this box you should receive notifications when new applications come in within your search criteria.

2. Where is the existing Local Council Protocol?

3. Please can you provide a succinct explanation of what 5 year land supply means to be supplied to all networks area?

  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) - Councils need to ensure that their Local Plans meet the ‘full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area’, identifying and updating annually a supply of deliverable sites sufficient to provide 5 years worth of housing with an additional buffer of 5% to ensure choice and competition. Where there is a persistent record of under delivery (which is not defined in more detail) an additional 20% buffer is required.  Beyond 5 years the NPPF requires Local Authorities to ‘identify specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth, for 6-10 years and, where possible, for years 11-15’.

4. Please can you send a link to Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) – Local People and the Planning Process Document?

5. Please can you send link to Local Plan and Neighbourhood Planning pages?

6. Please can you explain to what extent does 'conservation area status' carry any weight?

  • The main purpose of conservation area designation is to acknowledge the special character of an area.  This influences the way in which the council, as the local planning authority, deals with planning applications that may affect the area.  Within conservation areas, permitted development rights are restricted.  This means that applications for planning permission are required for certain types of work that would not normally need consent.  For further information please see the conservation information on the Planning Portal website.

The Renewable Energy SPD contains guidance on a range of renewable energy technologies. It explains what community ownership means and how it might be considered as part of a planning application. It sets out guidance on community engagement in renewable energy projects before planning applications are submitted. The SPD also contains detailed guidance on specific considerations, such as landscape and cumulative impact (in particular for wind turbines and solar farms). 

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment and Consequential Provisions ) (England) Order 2014 introduced a number of changes from 6 April 2014 to allow change of use of an agricultural building to a dwelling. However, development is not permitted where the proposed change of use would result in more than 3 dwellings subject to conditions and other criteria.  For more information you can view a copy of the permitted development provisions or download a copy of the Prior Notification Application Form.

The examination of the Cornwall Local Plan resumed on Monday 16th May 2016 and the Inspector is now considering his response.

April 2016: the scoping consultation on the proposed content of the Gypsy and Travelling Communities Site Allocations Development Plan Document has now closed.

Competitive finance to help bring empty properties back into habitable use.

The issue of empty properties and the wasted resource they represent is the subject of increased national and local awareness and action.

Our empty property strategy includes a range of initiatives aimed at addressing the issue, including encouraging advice, access to leasing schemes and financial assistance, and in some cases formal enforcement action (usually as a last resort, for example through the enforced sale or compulsory purchase of properties, where other options have failed).

Many empty properties are likely to be difficult to mortgage through conventional lenders, and it is our aim to provide assistance in those circumstances.

For further information you can view our Empty property loan leaflet our empty properties page or email emptyhomes@cornwall.gov.uk.

The service has now put together a set of customer care standards for the services it delivers. We are committed to achieving the targets that we have set out in the Planning and Regeneration Service Customer Care Standards document.

We can work with businesses and householders across Cornwall to help ensure your project runs smoothly and efficiently through the design, approval and construction processes. We also provide free building regulation pre-application advice, if required. Find out why you should choose local authority building control.

The planning and regeneration service now provides an optional validation checking service for the submission of planning applications. This service can help to provide the speedy registration of your planning application. More details can be found via the following link: validation checking service.