How planning applications are decided

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How your application is determined

Cornwall Council uses a scheme of delegation. This document states the range of decisions that designated (named) planning officers can make on behalf of the Council. It gives officers the permission to use delegated powers. This means most applications do not need to be referred to a Planning Committee.

The planning case officer:

  • considers the application and
  • sets out recommendations and reasons in a report or case notes.

These may be checked by another officer before a decision is agreed and issued.

Applications dealt with by an officer under delegated powers

The majority of applications are dealt with under delegated powers. We aim to determine at least 95% of applications this way.

There are protocols in place for both local Members and local councils. These provide an opportunity to influence the outcome of the application process. Officers will consider issues raised by local Members and local councils.

Applications dealt with by Area Planning Committees

Cornwall has been divided into three areas. Each area has a Planning Committee. The Area Committees deal with applications referred to them and are:

Applications are reported to the area Planning Committee in line with the Council’s Constitution.

Applications will be dealt with under delegated powers unless:

  • a local Member requests in writing for a major or minor application to be considered by committee and states sound:
    • planning
    • policy and
    • other area reasons why Committee consideration is needed.
  • objections have been received and Committee determination is requested by:
    • an elected Member or
    • a senior officer of the Council.
  • submitted by a close relation of:
    • an elected Member or
    • a senior officer of the Council. (Delegation is still permitted if the application is refused.)
  • if approved, it would be a significant departure from approved policies (Such applications may still be delegated for either approval or refusal.)

A close relation is defined as:

  • spouse
  • partner
  • sibling
  • parent
  • offspring

A senior officer in Planning is defined as all officers of group leader and above in Development Management. If another officer asks for Committee determination, it must be agreed by the Service Director.

Applications to be determined by the Strategic Planning Committee

The Strategic Planning Committee tend to deal with applications of countywide importance such as:

  • large scale developments of about 300 dwellings (or 4 hectares) on unallocated sites
  • commercial developments of 10,000 sqm (or 2 hectares) including for energy production and major road schemes of more than 3 miles
  • strategic developments identified by the Service Director for Planning and Sustainable Development (or representative) in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the relevant Sub Area Planning Committee.

Officers may determine applications under delegated authority in all cases unless it is called to Committee by the relevant local Member.

Virtual planning committees

Legislation that allowed virtual planning committees ceased on 6 May. 

Planning Committee meetings are taking place in person.  Presenting officers and speakers are encouraged to join remotely.  You can find information on how committees run on the webcasts page.

Emergency decision-making protocol

Applications needing Committee consideration can be decided by:

The written process works alongside meetings so we can:

  • manage agendas
  • ensure that the Committee is involved in the determination of the application

Local Council and Member Protocols are unchanged. Potential committee items are kept to a minimum. Officers will seek to resolve issues with the Divisional Member as much as possible. When the Divisional Member requests that an application is considered by a planning committee:

  • The application will be listed for consideration by the relevant planning committee
  • All applications to be considered by that committee will be decided either through:
    • a committee meeting
    • or via the existing emergency decision-making process - written procedure
  • Where items are being determined by the written procedure, the planning committee report will be emailed to:
    • the Divisional Member
    • Chair
    • Vice-Chair and
    • members of the relevant planning committee.

They have 5 days to respond with their comments. The report includes a section covering the key concerns of all consultees including the Local Council. It also includes a summary of any representations received. This ensures:

  • all Members (including the Divisional Member) can comment
  • the Divisional Member is included within the written process
  • views of the Members are collated and discussed with the Chair and Vice Chair. They review the report and make a decision.
  • the final decision is made by the Service Director or nominated representative
  • case officer reports are published on our website in advance
  • the record of the decision is also published.

The reports will be publicly available in the Committee area of our website around 8-9 working days before the decision is due to be made.

The emergency written procedure remains an option but we will use it only in exceptional circumstances.

Commenting on an application

Please make sure your comments either:

  • objection or
  • support

contain everything you want to say. Case officers include all comments that are material planning considerations in reports. This is the same for the emergency decision process and Committee reports.

How will I know when a particular application will be heard at Committee?

The Council will advertise details of the applications going to Committee on its website.

The meeting date will be recorded on the online planning register:

  • enter the application reference
  • see Important Dates


Public Speaking at Committee

Meetings are open to the public. Interested parties:

  • can speak about specific applications
  • must register to speak first.

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