Who determines planning applications?
Planning applications can either be determined by a council committee, often with a title such as Planning Committee of Development Management Committee or by a particular officer such as the Chief Planning Officer. Normally major or controversial applications are determined by a committee.
How is a decision delegated?
Local planning authorities have a set of criteria (normally based on factors such as the size and nature of the development, how many representations are received or whether a Councillor has requested that the planning committee should determine the application) to decide whether a decision should be made at officer level (delegated) or should be considered at planning committee. This is usually referred to as a 'Scheme of Delegation' and should be available from your Local Planning Authority (LPA)'s website or on request.
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 that resources are appropriately concentrated on the applications of greatest significance.
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.