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Common Planning Complaints

If you wish to complain about the way the application is being processed whilst the application is ongoing please email

This will not be treated as a formal corporate complaint at this stage if there is still time to address your complaint within the lifecycle of the application.

If the application is ongoing you can submit comments/objections up to the working day before the decision is issued and your comments will be included in the officer’s assessment of the application.  

Early comment is encouraged, ideally within the first 21 days, to enable applications to be determined within statutory timescales (8, 13 or 16 weeks depending on application type).  Remember, your objection may result in the officer seeking further detailed information or a condition being included in the consent.  It may not always result in the application being refused.

You can check if an application is ongoing by visiting the Online Planning Register.  Search on the address or application number.  Click on the ‘important dates’ tab.  This will tell you if the decision has been issued.  If the decision has been issued the application is ‘closed’ for comment.

View advice on ‘How to respond to planning applications’ giving examples of typical comments that can be considered known as material planning considerations and comments which are typically not material considerations.

The Local Planning Authority has a statutory requirement to notify the public of receipt of planning applications.

Depending on type of application this can be via the Council's Online Planning Register, an advert in the local press, by erection of a site notice or neighbour notification letters.

Advertisements in the local press

Prior to 1 May 2014, press adverts were placed in either the Cornish Guardian, the Cornish Times, the Cornishman, the Falmouth Packet, the Cornwall and Devon Post or the West Briton (dependent on area).

From 1 May 2014 only applications in the following list will be advertised in the local press. 

  • Environmental Impact Assessment applications accompanied by an Environmental Statement.
  • Applications that are a Departure from the Development Plan
  • Applications affecting a public right of way
  • Applications for “major” development (please note this includes all applications for winning and working of minerals or the use of land for mineral working deposits and waste development
  • Applications for Listed Building Consent
  •  Applications for planning permission for works affecting a Listed Building or its setting
  • Applications for planning permission or development of land affecting the character or appearance of a Conservation Area.
  • Prior Notifications for Telecommunications (but only if the works affect a public right of way, are contrary to the development plan, or the site area exceeds 1 hectare).

‘Applications for planning permission’ referred to above are for ‘development’ as defined in S.55(1) of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.  This doesn’t include submissions like: tree applications, advert consent, certificates of lawfulness, applications for pre-application advice etc.

Site notices

Site notices are erected in the vicinity of the proposed development.  A site notice is not normally erected for ‘householder’ applications.  ‘Householder’ applications are proposals such as extensions, conservatories, etc.  NB There may not be a site visit undertaken for small schemes where case officers can view the site and surrounding area using information available via the internet and where no objections are received. 

Neighbour notification letters

Neighbour notification letters are addressed to the ‘Owner/occupier’ and will be sent to dwellings that are immediately next to the proposed development.  The Local Planning Authority uses address points as saved on an address management database.  NB this is a separate database from and not linked to the Council tax database which can only be used for the purposes of collecting Council tax.

Further neighbour letters may be sent if the case officer is of the opinion that the proposed development might affect neighbours other than those identified via the Council’s address management database.

Wind Turbines

For large wind turbine applications additional neighbour letters will be sent to properties with an address point within a 500m radius of the centre of the proposed wind turbine.

The Council also publishes details of all applications received on the online planning register.

Find out if the officer has addressed your concerns in their report.  If reference has been made to your concern and the officer has explained how your objection has been assessed and weighted against planning legislation/policy guidance but you disagree with this assessment this does not make it a corporate complaint. 

You will find the Officer report saved on the Online Planning Register under the ‘documents’ tab, ‘view associated documents’ if the report relates to an application received since 2009.  If the officer report is not available for public view please contact the general planning line (tel: 0300 1234 151) to request that it is made available. 

Planning is concerned with land use in the public interest, so that the protection of purely private interests such as the impact of the development of the value of a neighbouring property or loss of private rights to light could not be material considerations.

Case officers are expected to read all comment received either in support or objection and assess against National/Local Planning Legislation/Policy/Guidance in their officer report.

Case officers are neutral.  They are expected to liaise with the applicant/agent if further information/clarification is required.

They are not expected to enter into dialogue with supporters or objectors or give the supporters or objectors assistance with writing their comments.

You can view information on planning legislation/policy and guidance.

If you have a question/query about general planning information contact or phone 0300 1234 151.


Please submit comments as soon as possible via the on-line planning register or by e-mail to, quoting the application reference number.  You may wish to submit further comments on any subsequent reports/information which have been requested after the original submission.

The case officer may receive duplicate letters of comment.  The name/address on each submission will be logged and copies of letters will be made available to view in the ‘documents’ tab of the online planning register.  If a large number of letters are received these will be ‘batched’ but should be viewable online. 

When duplicate letters of comment are received the case officer will assess the points raised but the volume of comments in support/objection do not outweigh the consideration of the proposal in policy terms.


Elected Divisional Members are notified about all planning applications in their Areas. They have a right under the Constitution to call any applications for ‘Major’ or ‘Minor’ development to Committee providing they give a written sound reason. – see link to website for the current Divisional Member for your area.

The Local Planning Authority has a protocol agreed/reviewed with Parish/Town Councils.  If the case officer makes a recommendation on the application which differs from the view of the Parish/Town Council, the case officer explains their reasoning to the Parish/Town Council who have 5 working days in which to respond.  If the Parish/Town Council and Planning officer cannot resolve their difference the Divisional Member is then re-consulted.  If it would be unreasonable to make any other planning decision than the one being recommended then the application should normally be determined under delegated powers.

The Local Planning Authority receives approximately 15,000 applications per year.  Over 90% of applications are granted consent.  Less than 5% of applications are determined at a Planning Committee.

Anyone can submit a planning application for any land provided they serve Notice to the landowner. They must also submit a Certificate proving that Notice has been served to the land owner to the Local Planning Authority.  

Where the ownership of land is not known, prospective applicants place adverts in the local newspaper.

Disputes over land ownership and deeds of covenant are civil matters and are not a planning consideration.  Planning consent can be granted on land owned by someone else but the consent may not be implemented or built if the land owner does not agree.  Land owners should seek legal advice.

Boundary disputes are not a planning consideration.   Please view information about the Party Wall Act.

The general principles of design guidance can be found in our Householder Design Guide.  However, this is guidance only.  Each application is assessed on its individual merits.  Factors such as orientation of the proposal in relation to neighbouring properties, the use of the rooms for any overlooking windows and whether it can be conditioned with obscure glazing etc are taken into consideration.  

Some developments benefit from permitted development rights and do not require planning permission.

Yes, although this is not classed as a corporate complaint but is an enforcement complaint and is dealt with under a separate process.

To check if a proposal is built in accordance with approved plans check the decision notice  in the ‘documents’ tab on the Online Planning Register.  The decision notice will list the approved plan numbers.  The approved plans can also be found in the ‘documents’ tab.

If an applicant has not built as per the approved plans or not complied with a condition of permission as found on the decision notice you can report this by completing an online enforcement form  where it will be logged and investigated.

Planning enforcement will assess your enforcement complaint and aim to visit site within 10 working days if necessary.  A resolution of the enforcement case and whether it is expedient to take formal action will be taken within 65 working days.  If you report an enforcement complaint you will be informed of the outcome.  Even if a technical breach of planning consent has occurred it does not necessarily mean it is in the wider public interest to pursue the breach/prosecute.  Find more information about Planning Enforcement.

If you are the applicant and your application is refused you do have the opportunity to appeal the decision through the Planning Inspectorate.  If you are the applicant or agent and feel there has been maladministration of process please speak to the case officer to discuss free pre-application advice and the possibility of free re-submission.

There is no right of appeal on the merits of the decision afforded to neighbours/third parties. If a planning decision has been issued and the Local Planning Authority is satisfied that this has followed correct procedure your only option is to challenge through Judicial Review.  You will need to seek your own legal advice on this.  This is usually time limited to 6 weeks from the date of decision.

The Local Planning Authority will only log your complaint if there is thought to be maladministration of process.  If it is found that there has been fault, an assessment will be made as to the harm this has caused the complainant individually and a remedy suggested.

If there has been fault, an assessment is made as to whether there has been injustice eg if permission has been given but there was some fault in the process, the first question to consider would be whether the outcome would have been the same even if there had been no fault?  If the decision would have been different then the question would be what would the other outcome probably have been?

  • A written apology
  • Review of systems/procedures/policy
  • Staff retraining
  • Action – where a development is still being constructed it may be possible to add in obscure glazing/pay for a fence/arrange fast growing shrubs etc.
  • Time and trouble/distress compensation – approx. £50 - £250
  • Reimbursement of application fee

Remedies rarely used – only in exceptional circumstances

  • Revocation order (to remove the planning permission if the development has not started)
  • Discontinuance Order (if the development is not complete)