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The decision making process

We will acknowledge your application within a few days. Before we grant or refuse planning permission we will consult with others and assess your application against local plan policies and guidance.

When we receive a planning application, we follow the steps below.


We check whether we have all the information we need. For further information about the validation process you can download best practice guidance.

Registration and scanning

Once the application has been validated, it is registered, allocated to a planning officer and scanned. We display the details and plans of the application on our website.


We consult with neighbours, the Environment Agency and the parish council. We may also prepare site notices and press notices to inform interested parties. We also consult our colleagues in conservation, highways and listed buildings. Members of the public can also comment on your application. We cannot reject your proposal simply because many people are against it.


We will assess your application against local plan policies and guidance and look at the planning history of the site (if any). We also look to see what account has been taken of guidance documents – the South Gloucestershire design guide, our guidance in the Statement of community involvement and the Building for life criteria. In most cases a planning officer will visit the site to assess the impact of the proposed development (a photograph protocol has been developed). We will also consider potential traffic problems, the effect on the amenity and the impact the proposal may have on the appearance of the surrounding area.

Decision making

A planning officer will make a decision on minor planning applications. Members of the council will consider applications for major developments or where we have received representation contrary to the planning officer’s recommendation. A decision will be made within eight weeks (or 13 weeks for a major application) from the date a complete application is received. Sometimes, for example if a lot of people are affected by the proposed development, we may ask to extend this period.  Where a planning officer or members of the council are unable to make a decision on an application, for example where they are contrary to planning policies the application will be considered by planning committee. The development control site inspection visits and the development control planning committee agendas and reports can be viewed from this page. Large proposals or controversial applications may be ‘called in’ so that the secretary of state can decide them. If the application is not ‘called in’ a decision is made based on the planning officer’s original recommendation.

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