Application process


Applications go through a process of Frontscreening. This is before registration and validation of an application. Frontscreening is a quick check of an application. It helps to identify if the proposed development is likely to be acceptable. For example:

  • whether it accords in principle with the policies of:
    • the Cornwall Local Plan
    • Neighbourhood Development Plan
  • whether there would be any other obvious material planning reasons why planning permission is unlikely to be given

If the proposed development is likely to be acceptable, it will proceed to validation in the normal way.

If the proposed development is unlikely to be acceptable, we will contact you. You will be given the option of having the application returned with the fee. This will allow time to:

  • amend the proposals
  • submit a pre-application enquiry or
  • prepare additional information

If you wish, the application can still proceed to validation in the normal way. In this case it is possible that the application will be recommended for refusal. Please note:

  • Frontscreening is not a full validation check. This will be completed by the Development Support team in the normal way.
  • Frontscreening will not provide:
  • If submitted via the Planning Portal, the relevant Financial Transaction Service Fee will not be refunded.

Applications are then:

  • fully registered
  • allocated to a case officer and
  • start the determination process.

Applications should take six to eight weeks from the time they are registered complete. For major applications this period is 13 weeks.  It is longer still if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required.  You can access more information on the planning process using these links:

Detailed desktop analysis

The case officer becomes familiar with the application and assesses issues that could be raised. The main parts of the planning application that are analysed are:

  • location of the development site
  • the site's relationship with neighbouring properties
  • constraints such as:
    • Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)
    • conservation areas
    • flood zones etc
  • who has been consulted/notified
  • planning history of the site including:
    • planning conditions
    • reasons for previous refusals 
  • application form details
  • ownership of the land
  • design and access statement
  • materials to be used
  • reports or statements made by the applicant
  • checks for accuracy of the plans
  • assessment of the plans

Site visit

Officers visit sites for most applications apart from Householder applications. For householder applications, it is for the case officer to decide if a site visit is necessary. The purpose of the site visit is to visualise the development in the context of its setting.

This part of the process is important.  It helps officers understand the extent of the proposal on the site.  Officers will note:

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

Officers check that neighbours have been notified. The site visit is recorded using notes and photographs. Officers will note:

  • the date of visit
  • location of the site notice
  • any additional neighbours that have been notified.

The display of site notices is the responsibility of the case officer.  We may sometimes ask applicants to put up the site notice.

Not all types of application need site notices.

Three week consultation

The application may be publicised using:

  • an advert in the local press
  • a site notice
  • letters to neighbours
  • consultations to the parish and other interested parties.

A minimum of 3 weeks is allowed for publicity.  The case officer receives comments on the application during this time. These comments bring matters to their attention.

You can find more information on notification and publicity using this link: Notification and publicity for planning applications


This part of the process pulls all the information together to help make a decision. The case officer researches the wide-ranging source materials. This research can include:

  • histories of both the site and other similar cases
  • local and national planning policies
  • government guidance
  • case specific research
  • planning acts, regulations and case law
  • design guides
  • other supplementary planning documents
  • a further site visit if necessary for clarification.

The officer then:

  • gathers the information together and
  • considers it beside the information learnt at the start of the process.

This provides the basis for a balanced recommendation that is fundamentally supported by planning policy. In exceptional cases the recommendation may be weighted to the contrary by other material considerations.

A case officer may need to request:

  • further information from the applicant or
  • an amendment to the proposal.

The planning process should encourage good development.  It is not a barrier.  If an application is likely to be refused, the case officer will often speak to an applicant to find a solution.  This way a positive outcome is achieved. Another option to avoid a refusal is to:

  • withdraw the application and
  • seek pre-application advice.

The decision

The officer's role is to:

  • investigate and assess the proposal's suitability and
  • communicate this in writing to the appropriate deciding body.

The majority of applications are decided by delegated powers. Major and more controversial applications are decided by Planning Committees.

Decisions can be:

  • approval
  • conditional approval
  • refusal

The officer or Planning Committee makes a decision.  The applicant is notified by the decision notice.  A conditional approval will have planning conditions. 

Find out about discharging planning conditionsYou can find more information on the Council decides planning applications using the link below.

How planning applications are decidedYou can appeal against a refusal of planning permission.  Find out more about appeals

Complaints process

If you are unhappy about how the Council has handled:

  • a planning application or
  • enforcement investigation

you can use our online complaint form.  Our feedback team will aim to respond to you within 10 working days.

Make a complaint

If your complaint is about your planning application decision, then you have the right to appeal.  This is set out in your decision notice.

You can find more information on common planning complaints on our Common planning complaints page.

If you have complained and are unhappy with the response, you may refer the matter to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman website

Please note:

  • The LGSCO cannot investigate a complaint just because you do not agree with the decision
  • They have no power to alter the decision.

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