Planning application process
Pre application advice
We offer a pre-application advice service and encourage applicants, developers and their agents to engage with this service, particularly on major or complex development proposals.
We have a formal process for advice on certain categories of development but also offer advice on smaller developments and householder works.
Pre-application advice can be useful in indicating whether your proposed works are likely to be acceptable, or what changes might make them acceptable in planning terms. For further information visit our pre application advice page.
Submitting an application
For an application to be considered as valid by the Council it will need to include a range of information. Along with the appropriate application form and fee this will usually include documents such as plans, a location map and statements describing aspects of the application. These will vary depending on the details and scale of the proposals.
For an application to be considered as valid it must meet both national and local validation requirements. The national requirements establish a core and mandatory list of information required for a valid application. Local requirements are those which have been adopted by the Council and are also required for a valid application.
You may wish to consider appointing an agent to handle your application and act on your behalf. This can be anyone that you choose to appoint, for example a builder, architect, surveyor, planning consultant or anyone else familiar with the planning process. We are not able to recommend a particular agent so would suggest that you seek advice from appropriately qualified professionals.
Useful Professional bodies include:
Only those individuals listed on the Statutory Register of Architects are allowed to call themselves architects.
A checklist has been produced for each application type setting out both national and local validation requirements. The checklists can be viewed next to the relevant application form on our application forms and validation checklists page.
Our preferred way of receiving an application is online.
Alternatively, you can submit your application by hand to the Council's Public Advice and Service Centre within the Liberty Shopping Centre or by post.
Once received, the application is checked by an officer to make sure we have everything we need to assess it.
If anything is missing, we will either telephone you or write to the applicant (or the applicant's representative) explaining what else is required.
If you include an email address on your application form we can also email you.
When everything is in order, the application will be registered as valid.
The date that we receive all the necessary information to validate an application marks the starting point of the target period, by the end of which, we will normally have made a decision on the application.
This will usually be eight weeks for smaller applications (house extensions etc.) and 13 weeks for larger developments (10 or more new flats etc.)
Once an application is validated it will be allocated to a case officer and we will send out an acknowledgement letter to the applicant or their agent.
This letter states the date by which we will aim to have made a decision on the application.
As the local planning authority, we consult those whom we think may be interested in new planning applications, allowing at least 21 days for responses.
Depending on the type of application, we may consult using one or more of the following methods:
- Individual letters to neighbours
- A site notice (usually attached to a lamp post or other fixture near to the site)
- Press adverts (Romford Recorder)
Anyone is entitled to submit comments on a current planning application regardless of whether or not they were personally consulted.
When submitting comments please remember to quote the reference number of the application and your name and address so that we can send you an acknowledgement.
For further information about planning application consultation please visit our planning consultations page
Reaching a recommendation
After an applications consultation period has expired, the case officer will complete a full evaluation of the application and agree the appropriate decision level for the application.
During the evaluation, the officer will assess the application against local, regional and national policies, advice and comments received in the consultation and other information, including:
- Observations from visiting the site
- Relevant planning policies contained in the Council's Local Development Framework and in Supplementary Planning Documents
- National and regional planning policies
- Comments received through the consultation process
- Design and layout
- External appearance and materials
- Access for disabled people
- Impact on the amenities of neighbours (e.g. loss of daylight, sunlight and privacy)
- Noise nuisance
- Traffic and parking issues
- Loss or increase of a particular type of use of land
The case officer will then write a report which recommends that planning permission either be granted or refused.
Making a decision
Decisions on planning applications are made either under delegated powers or by the Regulatory Services (Planning) Committee.
Under delegated powers, senior planning officers have the authority to make decisions to grant or refuse planning permission. These decisions are mostly on applications for smaller scale developments (such as alterations, small extensions to property, conversions, straightforward changes of use, etc.) or refusals of permission. To see what applications can be dealt with at officer level, please refer to the Delegation Agreement web page.
The Regulatory Services Committee usually consider applications for large scale redevelopments, or controversial changes of use such as applications involving restaurant / takeaway uses, etc. Planning officers present reports and recommendations to the Elected Councillors who sit on the Committee. It is these Elected Councillors who decide whether to grant or refuse planning permission for these applications.
We will email the decision notice to the applicant or agent, not both, if an email address has been provided. If there is no email address we will send it by second class mail. We write to anyone who has made a representation, telling them the outcome of the application.