Advice on Planning Procedure
The procedure for processing Planning Applications can be difficult to understand as it involves many stages, but we attempt to give a simplified guide below.
Please do not rely on this guide: we suggest you also speak to Planning Officers, or seek professional advice, if anything is unclear.
We do not offer advice on submitting planning applications, only on the procedure which follows their submission.
You can use the Links Button on our website (bottom right) to navigate directly to relevant pages on the various Council websites.
When is a Planning Application necessary?
- Planning Law allows additions to a property provided they fall within Permitted Development Rights. These rights are contained in the Government's technical guidance notes https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/permitted-development-rights-for-householders-technical-guidance
- If a householder proposes to exceed those rights then they must submit a Planning Application for approval.
- If a proposed addition is marginally inside those rights, a householder may apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development, a simplified and cheaper process where the Council certify that a full Planning Application is not necessary.
- If a householder makes an addition to a property without approval which exceeds the Permitted Development Rights, they risk the Council issuing an Enforcement Notice that they rectify the breach, either by submitting a retrospective application or by demolishing the addition.
Outline of the Process.
- When a planning application is submitted, immediate neighbours and other parties will be sent a letter by the Council making them aware of the application.
- In that part of Buckhurst Hill which is subject to Epping Forest District Council, all planning applications are scrutinised by a sub-committee of BH Parish Council. It submits an opinion to EFDC, but does not decide the outcome of the application.
- Applications are decided either by Planning Officers at EFDC or by a sub-committee of District Councillors. Applications will go before Councillors if either BH Parish Council objects or several neighbours object.
- The Planning sub-committee of EFDC meets usually once a month to consider applications which have received objections.
- If Councillors decide to refuse an application, the applicant can appeal to HM Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, and that decision is then final.
- For that part of Postcode IG9 which is part of Redbridge, see below.
Finding a Planning Application
- To find details of a planning application, go to the Planning Portal of EFDC. Either enter the reference number, or search using Parish = Buckhurst Hill plus either the address or a date range (usually just a set number of months = 2 say)
- There will be a number of documents attached to the application which can be viewed.
- If you wish to submit an objection or comments, you can do this either online or by letter. There will be a deadline for submissions although, exceptionally, submissions after this date may be taken into account.
- Plans may also be viewed by visiting the Council Offices in Epping.
- When a decision is reached, that is recorded on the application on the Planning Portal.
Buckhurst Hill Parish Council
- A sub-committee of BHPC meets every few weeks to consider new applications. The agenda listing the applications can be found on their website, and on parish noticeboards.
- Meetings are held in BH Library, usually on Thursday evenings.
- At the start of each meeting members of the public are allowed to speak for a total of 15 minutes. This may be the applicant or neighbours who wish to express an objection. There is no need to register in advance, just turn up.
- Members of the Residents’ Society committee may attend to speak as well as or on behalf of neighbours.
- Members of the Parish Council are legally unable to offer advice on applications until after these meetings, and this is where the Residents’ Society may be able to help.
- If the Parish Council decides to express an objection, the application will be promoted to be decided by Councillors at EFDC Plans South. The grounds for the objection will be recorded on the application on the EFDC Planning Portal.
Epping Forest District Council Area Planning Sub-Committee South
- If neither BH Parish Council, nor neighbours, object to an application, it may be decided by Planning Officers under delegated powers.
- EFDC Plans South meets usually once a month. The agenda is published on their website about ten days beforehand, and anyone who has submitted an objection will receive a letter giving notice.
- The agenda summarises the application, outlines any objections received, and gives arguments by the Planning Case Officer as to whether the application should be approved or refused.
- At the meeting, one objector may speak for three minutes, as may the applicant.
- Meetings are held at the council offices in Epping. The procedure for attending is outlined at the front of the agenda. Persons wishing to speak must give one day's notice.
- Meetings are televised live as webcasts and can be viewed at home on a PC or tablet. If you miss this, the webcast can be viewed from the following day. It is possible to view specific agenda items without watching the whole meeting (only on the recorded version).
- If the committee refuses an application, the applicant may appeal to HM Planning Inspectorate. This involves costs, and Councillors are very aware that they must only refuse applications on firm planning grounds or EFDC may be liable for the applicant's costs if the Inspector overturns the refusal.
- If an application is of major importance, it may be referred from Plans South to a subcommittee of the whole council called the District Development Management Committee (DDMC).
- An application on land owned by EFDC which is refused by Plans South will go to appeal to the DDMC, and not to the Planning Inspectorate.
- Minutes of meetings, including decisions made, are published a few weeks after each meeting. Anyone who submitted an objection will receive a letter notifying them of the decision.
Unfortunately we do not routinely monitor applications for the small part of Buckhurst Hill which is part of Redbridge. To search for applications, use our Links tab to go to the Redbridge Council website, go to 'Search planning Applications', enter 'IG9' in the Street field and a date in Date Registered From. In Redbridge there is no equivalent to BH Parish Council, so applications will be assessed only by planning officers or Redbridge Councillors. The process is fully explained on their website under 'Make a Plannng Application' and 'What happens after you have submitted your application'.
- The Planning Inspectorate represents the Secretary of State and is the final avenue of appeal. They will appoint a Planning Inspector to adjudicate the application.
- Any person who objected at the earlier stage will receive a letter notifying them that an appeal has been lodged.
- The Planning Inspector will read all earlier objections so there is no need to resubmit the same arguments.
- If you do wish to submit a further letter, this can be done through the Planning Inspectorate website or by letter, using the reference number quoted.
- The process may take up to several months.
How the Residents' Society can help
- We are not experts on Planning Law, but have experience of following many previous applications through the process.
- We monitor new applications registered onto the EFDC Planning Portal, and if any are of general importance, we may submit our own objection to EFDC.
- We can be contacted by neighbours concerned about an application, and can give advice on the process, and on submitting their own objection.
- On major issues such as the application in 2016 for a Care Home at 1 Powell Road, or on EFDC's Local Plan, we will join with other parties in public campaigns.
- We will give advice irrespective of whether anyone who contacts us is a member of the Society or not.
There are many general guides to Planning on the internet. This is one : https://planninghelp.cpre.org.uk/improve-where-you-live/how-to-comment-on-a-planning-application
on behalf of BHRS