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Common planning complaints

Feedback scenarios

Before making a formal complaint about the Planning Service check out the following common feedback scenarios to see if this answers your complaint.

Complaining about a current planning application

If you are unhappy with how your planning application was handled, you can use the online complaint form.

Our feedback team will aim to respond to you within 10 working days.

Use our online complaint form

If you wish to complain about the decision of your planning application, as the applicant you have the right to appeal. You can find out how to do this by viewing your decision notice, talking to the case officer or your agent if you have one.

If the application is current and live, your complaint will not be handled as a formal complaint at this stage. This is because there is still time for your concerns to be addressed.

At this stage you can also submit comments towards the application. You can comment up till the day the decision is issued.

Your views will be reviewed by the case officer and addressed in the officers report.

You can check if an application is ongoing by visiting the Online Planning Register.

  1. Search on the address or application number. 
  2. Click on the ‘important dates’ tab. 
  3. This will tell you if the decision has been issued. 
  4. If the decision has been issued the application is ‘closed’ for comment.

For further advice check our ‘How to respond to planning applications’ webpage.

How to respond to planning applications

You will be told how to refer the matter to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). You will be given this information if you have been through our formal complaint process.

The LGSCO will not investigate a complaint because you do not agree with the planning decision. They have no power to change the decision. 

The Local Planning Authority failed to notify the public of a planning application

The Law requires all Local Planning Authorities to publicise planning applications.  This is set out in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure)(England) Order 2015.  This can include:

  • advertisement in a local newspaper;
  • site notice
  • notifying any adjoining owner or occupier

Not all of the above are required for every application.  We will ensure that we have met the requirements set out in the law when publicising applications.

The best way to ensure you are aware of applications in your area is to set up an alert to never miss a planning application via our online planning register.

Information regarding when and how the LPA publicise planning applications can be found on our web page notification and publicity of planning related applications.

Please note from 1 March 2024 we only notify adjoining owner or occupier on householder applications.

An adjoining owner or occupier is defined as: 'any owner or occupier of land adjoining the application site, i.e. land which shares a boundary with the site'.

The Council also publishes details of all applications received on the online planning register.

The case officer failed to assess your objection

Find out if the officer has addressed your concerns in their report. You will find their report in the documents section on the online planning register. You will need to search the application reference first.

If your comments have been addressed within the officer report, you should not complain because you do not agree with their decision. You are not be able to alter the decision because you have a different opinion to the case officer.

Unable to speak to the case officer

Each case officer manages a large amount of planning applications at one time. It is not possible for them to discuss individual concerns over the phone.

Concerns can be raised by commenting on the planning application. The case officer will then review them before making a decision.

Multiple comments or objections to a planning application

You may submit multiple comments in support or objection. You must refer to material planning considerations only.

The case officer may receive duplicate letters of comment.  The name and address on each submission will be logged. Letters will be made available to view in the ‘documents’ tab of the online planning register.  If a large number of letters are received these will be ‘batched’ but should be viewable online. 

When duplicate letters of comment are received the case officer will assess the points raised. The amount of comments in support or objection do not determine the decision.

Request for a planning application to be determined by a Sub-Area Planning Committee

You are not able to request that a planning application is determined by a Sub-Area Planning Committee

Elected Divisional Members are notified about all planning applications in their Areas.

The Local Planning Authority has a protocol in place with Parish/Town Councils.  If the case officers view is different to the the Town and Parish Council, the case officer explains their reasoning to them. They then have 5 working days in which to respond. They can either agree with the case officers recommendation. Agree to disagree or request the application be decided by committee.

Consent granted where the applicant does not own the land or there is a covenant on the application site

Anyone can submit a planning application for any land provided they serve Notice to the landowner. They must also submit a Certificate proving that Notice has been served to the land owner to the Local Planning Authority.  

Where the ownership of land is not known, prospective applicants place adverts in the local newspaper.

Disputes over land ownership and deeds of covenant are civil matters and are not a planning consideration. 

Boundary disputes

Boundary disputes are not a planning consideration.  

Please view information about the Party Wall Act.

Party Wall Act

A neighbour's build is overlooking/overshadowing my garden/property

The general principles of design guidance can be found in our draft Design Guide.  However, this is guidance only.  Each application is assessed on its individual merits. 

View the Cornwall Design Guide

Some developments benefit from permitted development rights and do not require planning permission.

A development has not been built in accordance with approved plans or a developer has not complied with a condition

You can make a complaint, but this is not classed as a corporate complaint. This is an enforcement complaint and is dealt with under a separate process.

Enforcement complaints

Planning enforcement will assess your enforcement complaint and aim to visit site if necessary. If you report an enforcement complaint you will be informed of the outcome. 

A complaint about a Divisional Member's involvement in the planning process

Yes, you can make a complaint using the Code of Conduct complaint form.

Code of Conduct complaint form

An alternative route for challenging a planning decision

If you are the applicant and your application is refused you have the right to appeal the decision through the Planning Inspectorate.

There is no right of appeal on the merits of the decision afforded to neighbours/third parties. If you are a third party, you may challenge the decision through Judicial Review.  You will need to seek your own legal advice on this. 

This is usually time limited to 6 weeks from the date of decision.

What to expect from a complaint if fault is found

If there has been fault, an assessment is made as to whether there has been injustice.

This means that we will review whether a different decision would have been made if there had been no fault. We would check whether a different outcome would have occurred.

Common remedies to complaints

  • A written apology
  • Review of systems/procedures/policy
  • Staff retraining
  • Action – where a development is still being constructed it may be possible to add in obscure glazing/pay for a fence/arrange fast growing shrubs etc.
  • Time and trouble/distress compensation – approx. £50 - £250
  • Reimbursement of application fee

Remedies rarely used – only in exceptional circumstances

  • Revocation order (to remove the planning permission if the development has not started)
  • Discontinuance Order (if the development is not complete)

Need help?

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