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Business planning

We offer specific information and advice to help businesses in the Borough with their planning needs and obligations.

Make a business planning application

The Planning Protocol

The Planning Protocol is our commitment to help local business through the planning process. It also explains the commitments that you as a business should give towards the process.

Initial approach

We will provide you with an opportunity to have an informal telephone conversation with a senior planning officer within the relevant area team.  This will provide initial advice on whether planning permission will be necessary, potential issues and information requirements in relation to a planning application.

Officers will also provide information on other consents that may be necessary and key contacts, for example, building control and licensing.


Before you start, use Planning Portal to check whether you need permission for your plans.

We can save you time and effort by going through your planning ideas or problems before they reach the formal application stage. This enables us to give you advice and opinions while helping you to avoid any pitfalls, and helps to minimise delays when applications are submitted.

With the exception of the larger developments and change of use (over 100 sq m floorspace), pre-application advice is provided free to local businesses when proposing the development (including change of use) of premises for their business use.

Pre-application advice procedures and charges

After submitting the application

When a planning application is received, planning officers notify the public or neighbours, and consult with other council departments and any other affected people or organisations. We might notify the public or neighbours by:

  • Placing the application on the public planning register
  • Tell neighbours either through a letter, site notice or a notice in the local newspaper

The statutory consultation period is three weeks.

If there are issues of concern, we will instigate a review meeting within six weeks of registration of the application and identify amendments that could address any issue or problems. Wherever possible, we would not refuse an application from a local business without first discussing the reasons and any ways of overcoming these.

What businesses should do

  • Discuss proposals at the earliest stage and be responsive to officer advice and our published policies and planning guidelines.
  • Provide a high quality application, including necessary plans and other material.
  • Make any amendments or send additional information as quickly as practicable.

Unacceptable proposals

It is important to recognise that while we want to support local businesses there will continue to be proposals that are unacceptable. Planning legislation requires that all decisions on planning applications are taken in accordance with the Development Plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Where there are likely to be issues with a proposal, officers will provide advice as early in the processes as possible.

Monitoring and review

We will work with the Chamber of Commerce and other organisations to monitor the effectiveness of this Protocol. Views from businesses or other stakeholders on this Protocol and the planning service are welcome.

Types of applications


An application for Outline planning permission is generally used to find out, whether or not the principle of development is acceptable, before any substantial costs are incurred.  This type of application allows fewer drawings to be submitted.  However it is recommended you provide us with as much information as possible and discuss this before you submit the application.  Permission for a change of use cannot be obtained via an outline application.

Detailed approval

Once an outline application is granted, you will need detailed approval (reserved matters) before starting work. This application may include details of:

  • Appearance
  • Means of access
  • Landscaping
  • Layout
  • Scales

Full planning permission

Full permission needs the submission of all details. It is compulsory for all changes of use and advisable for all applications if you want to start quickly.

What to include in your application

To prevent avoidable delays or refusals, you must ensure that your planning application submission is accompanied with all necessary drawings and reports to meet policy requirements. 

Our guide to making a planning application details what you will need.

Timescales for decisions

Usually we will make a planning decision within eight weeks on a minor application or 13 weeks on larger, complex applications. Discuss this with us and we will try and agree a timetable.

For Building Regulation applications, decisions are normally made within five weeks or a maximum of two months where an extension of time has been agreed.

Is there a fee?

Yes, but the amount varies according to the development.  Our fees page details current charges.

It is not refundable unless the application is invalid on receipt and the planning assessment has not begun but not if you wish to withdraw before determination.  However, if you withdraw an application or we refused a previous application, you can make a new application free of charge within 12 months if it is a similar character of development and the site has not been the subject of a ‘free go’ beforehand.

Building and extending business premises

To construct new premises you will nearly always need to apply for planning permission.

The policies within the Local Plan will give you some indication of whether your proposal is likely to be acceptable.

It is worth talking to a planning officer before submitting an application. If there are difficulties, they may be able to suggest ways to make your proposal more acceptable.

The General Permitted Development Order indicates when, in general, an application for permission will or will not be required. It is likely that most extensions to business premises will require planning permission.

You are recommended to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate to ensure we have agreed the work to comprise permitted development, and so does not need planning permission.


If you are considering changing the use of a building or site, we recommend you read our Change of use guidance.


New illuminated signage at a building or site is likely to need advertisement consent. Further details on the types of signage that need consent are available from the Planning Portal.

Where consent is required, signage will need to be designed in accordance with the advice found in Supplementary planning document 'Shopfronts' - adopted 2010

Retrospective applications

If you required permission for work but did not obtain it, we may simply ask you to apply retrospectively. However, this can depend on the nature of the development and its effect on neighbours so we may consider it necessary to take enforcement action.

This involves issuing notices setting out the steps required to put things right and the date by which these must be implemented. You may be required to cease activities, or demolish problem buildings. If you have not complied with a condition imposed on the grant of planning permission, we may issue a breach of condition notice requiring you to carry out work to abide by the terms of the condition.

You can appeal against this but if an appeal is dismissed and a notice becomes effective, it is an offence not to comply and we can prosecute. Enforcement proceedings can be time-consuming and disruptive.

There is no right of appeal against a breach of condition notice and you will risk prosecution if you do not comply with it.

A guide to Enforcement Notice Appeals is available from The Planning Inspectorate.

Where the Building Regulations have been contravened, depending upon the seriousness of the particular case we can take enforcement action for a fine and/or require the offending works to be corrected to comply with regulations. In extreme cases it can require the offending works to be completely removed.

Up to: Planning

Updated: 07 October 2022

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