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The Planning Process

Planning and Permitted Development

What does planning do?

The planning system manages the development and use of land in the public interest, prioritising long term collective benefits, contributing to improving the economic, social, environmental, and cultural wellbeing of Wales.

It must reconcile the needs of development and conservation, securing economy, efficiency and amenity in the use of land, ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources and protecting, promoting, conserving and enhancing the built and historic environment.  

What is Development?

Planning permission is generally needed for development.

'Development' is defined by section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ('the 1990 Act') as: 'The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.'

The 1990 Act identifies two aspects of development: operational development (physical changes to land including buildings); and material changes of use (operational changes to the way land is used).

Permitted Development

Permitted development is development that can be carried out without the need to apply for planning permission, as it is already granted by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO), as amended for Wales.

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Use Classes Order and Pre-application Procedures

Use Classes Order

The Use Classes Order (UCO) is intended as a deregulatory instrument, helping to reduce the burden on business and the planning system whilst balancing the need to control activities in the public interest.

The UCO establishes groups of uses with similar planning impacts. The order describes these as classes. Changes between uses within the group (class) would not result in any significant change in planning impact so there is little benefit in requiring a planning application for the change. Therefore, changes of use within classes do not require planning permission but changes to uses in different classes or to uses not in a specified class do require permission if there is a 'material change of use'.

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Pre-application Procedures

Pre-application procedures aim to ensure that planning applications proceed smoothly and quickly once they are formally submitted to the determining authority. The idea is that any significant planning issues are raised prior to the submission of a formal application. This provides applicants with the opportunity to consider these issues and, if necessary, amend their proposals before they are finalised and submitted as planning applications.

The Planning (Wales) Act 2015 introduced pre-application requirements into the 1990 Act. These include a new statutory requirement for local planning authorities to provide preapplication services to applicants and a duty on applicants to carry out pre-application consultation with the community and specified consultees.

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Submission, Registration and Validation and Fees

Submission, Registration and Validation

Applicants can submit an application electronically or in paper format to the local planning authority. The application forms will vary for each consent type to accommodate the different information that is relevant for the determination of each case.

Checking by the local planning authority, whether all required items have been submitted (commonly called 'validation'), is important. Validation identifies whether the information requirements for the application type have been met.

If a local planning authority is satisfied it has received an application that meets the requirements set out in the Standard Application Form, including additional assessment documents, it must be registered as a valid application. Clear omissions will result in the application being determined as invalid.

Please note that submission of poor-quality applications can result in significant delay for your applications.

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A fee is payable for most types of permission. The fees are set nationally and must accompany the submission of the application. Without payment of the appropriate fee, an application is not valid.

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Publicity and Consultation

Where a valid application for planning permission has been submitted, there is a statutory obligation for local planning authorities to undertake publicity and consultation.

The term 'publicity' refers to giving notice that an application has been received so that neighbours and other interested parties can make their views known. 'Consultation' invites the views of specialist bodies on particular types of development.

Powys County Council generally uses site notices to publicise planning applications. Notices should be displayed on or near the site and should be visible and legible to anyone passing by without the need to enter the site to be read. A large development site that may have several roads and footpaths leading to it, or with more than one frontage, will normally require more than one notice.

Representations to an application for planning permission can be made up to and including 21 days from the date the application was first publicised. However, any relevant comments received after this period should also be taken into consideration if the application has not been determined. All representations should be made in writing (email is acceptable) for them to be formally considered.

It is at the LPAs discretion whether they should undertake an additional publicity exercise if an application is amended, or additional information is submitted once the publicity and consultation periods have passed but the application has not been determined. If further consultation is deemed to be required, the local planning authority will make a judgement on what publicity requirements are sufficient.

The Application Process

Assessing and Determining the Planning Application

Applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the adopted development plan(s) for the area unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Factors to be considered in making planning decisions (material considerations) must be planning matters; that is, they must be relevant to the regulation of the development and use of land in the public interest, towards the goal of sustainability. Material considerations must also be fairly and reasonably related to the development concerned.

The weight to attach to material considerations is a matter of judgement, however the local planning authority must demonstrate in the planning officers or committee report that, in reaching its decision, they have considered all relevant matters. Generally greater weight is attached to issues supported by evidence rather than solely by assertion.

Scheme of Delegation

Every local planning authority has a scheme of delegation setting out the development types or other criteria of planning applications which will be determined by planning committee and the circumstances in which applications can be determined by officers under delegated powers.

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Submission of additional information and amendments

The submission of additional information and/or amendments can provide an applicant with an opportunity to secure a development that complies with planning policy.

The Planning Service will normally only accept one set of additional information/amendments. If the timeframe for the submission of this information is more than 21 days, the Planning Service will normally request that the application is withdrawn and resubmitted once the information is available.

Planning Application Report

A planning officer's report, whether to a planning committee or as part of delegated decision making by officers, has a role upholding the transparency of the planning system, explaining the material considerations and their relative weight in coming to a recommended decision.

Reports should be clear and concise. The use of 'planning jargon' will be avoided, when possible, to ensure that a member of the public with no knowledge of the planning system can understand the issues that the local planning authority must consider.

The local planning authority should ensure that all aspects of the proposed development for which planning permission is sought are clearly stated.

Statutory Consultee responses will be included in the report. These can be summarised if the response is particularly detailed.

The number of public representations received, including a breakdown of those that support/object to the development, will normally be recorded in the report and accompanied with a summary of those representations.

The final section of the report should be an analysis of the development assessed against all identified policy considerations and other material considerations.

It should be clear to all that read the report how the development complies or not, with the polices stated in the report. A case officer recommendation, including any conditions, will be placed at the end of the report.

Issuing a Decision Notice

Once a decision has been made on a planning application either under delegated authority or at planning committee the local planning authority will notify the applicant of their decision using a written decision notice and record the decision on the Planning Register (planning website).

It is vital that all conditions attached to a decision notice are complied with and where required, discharged in accordance with the timeframes specified within the condition. Please note that pre-application advice service can be used to assist with the prompt discharge of planning conditions.

If conditions or approved plans are not adhered to, you can be subject to planning enforcement action. You might also invalidate your planning permission which means that it cannot be implemented lawfully.

Appeals and Amendments

Appeals and References to the Welsh Ministers

Where a party is aggrieved by a planning decision, non-validation or non-determination, that party may appeal to the Welsh Ministers against that action. Appeals are made to and administered by the Planning and Environment Decisions Wales ("PEDW"). In most cases the appeal is decided by PEDW on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.

Amendments to Permissions

Once planning permission has been granted, its implementation must be in accordance with the permission and any conditions attached to it. If the developer wishes to make changes to the use or design of the development, they should first apply to amend the permission. There are a number of ways to do this depending on the complexity of the proposed change.

Non-material Amendments: Where a change to approved development is so small or insignificant in its planning impacts it is a 'non-material amendment'. There is no formal definition of a non-material amendment because what is a significant change in terms of town and country planning will vary depending on the circumstances of the case.

Section 73 Applications: Section 73 of the 1990 Act allows applications to be made for planning permission without complying with conditions previously imposed on an extant planning permission. Where a section 73 application is granted, its effect is to grant a new planning permission. Section 73 applications can be broadly separated into three different application types, based on their intended purpose. These are to:

  • extend the time limit of an existing permission (commonly referred to as a 'renewal' application)
  • allow 'minor material amendments' to planning permissions
  • allow the variation or removal of any other condition attached to a planning permission.


Planning - advice and guidance

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to get involved in planning their local area. The links below aim to provide you with access to knowledge and tools to achieve this.