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How planning applications are decided

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 Constitution.

View 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.
  • they are major or minor applications relating to the Council's own land or development, or submitted by an elected Member or senior officer of the Council where: 
    • sustainable planning objections have been received and
    • the application is being recommended for approval (delegation is still permitted if the application is recommended for refusal).
  • 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 team leader and above in Development Management. If another officer asks for Committee determination, it must be agreed by the Head of Service.

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

Planning Committee meetings are taking place in person now.  The meetings are also webcast.  You don't have to come to the Planning Committee in person to listen in.  A good way to listen to a Planning Committee is to view it via the webcast.

You can find information on how committees run and links to upcoming meeting webcasts using this link:

Find out about webcasts

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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