Who determines planning applications?
Planning applications are decided by a Committee or under delegated powers. Each local authority has a Committee of elected Local Councillors that sits approximately once per month, and has a title such as Planning Committee/Planning and Regulatory Committee/Planning and Licencing Committee. The Committee determine a small number of applications each month. The remainder are decided under delegated powers, by the Chief Planning Officer.
How is a decision delegated?
Most planning applications do not need to be decided by a Committee, and under the local authority’s Scheme of Delegation, the powers to determine applications are delegated to the Chief Planning Officer. Each authority has a different Scheme of Delegation, which determines which applications go to Committee and which are delegated. Normally major applications are determined by a Committee, and sometimes those with a certain number of objections or those “called-in” by a local Councillor also have to go to Committee, but it varies for each authority. The Scheme of Delegation can normally be found on the local authority’s website.
Why is a decision delegated?
Planning authorities have to try and deal with applications as efficiently as possible and as quickly as they can. Dealing with applications that are straightforward in terms of the planning issues they raise under delegation helps achieve this and ensures that resources are appropriately concentrated on the applications of greatest significance. Most applications are not controversial and do not require a Committee to determine these.
How does delegation work?
If an application meets all the criteria for delegation, the case officer will assess the application and prepare a report making a recommendation for refusal or approval. The Head of Planning or other manager who has delegated powers will then sign it off, assuming of course they agree with the recommendation, and the decision notice will be issued.