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Last revised July 30, 2013

Development requires planning approval from the Local Planning Authority (LPA), which is Bristol City Council. The application is assessed against planning policy, ie National Planning Policy, the Bristol Local Plan, and ‘other material considerations‘.

Development can be a new building, conversion of or an extension to an existing building or change of use of a building. It can also cover advertisements, off street parking and works to trees in conservation areas.

What is the planning application process?

Planning Application:

The developer or householder submits a set of documents giving all the relevant information about the proposed development to the Local Planning Authority, together with a Planning Application Fee.


The drawings and accompanying documents are uploaded to the BCC Planning Online website so that anyone can look at them and comment on them.

Anyone may comment on an application. Comments can be in support of or objecting to the application, or can be neutral but cover issues that you think should be considered when the application is decided.

The application may also be advertised by notices on lamp posts near the site and in the local newspaper.

Neighbours and ‘statutory consultees’ including ward councillors will be notified of applications by the LPA and invited to submit their comments.

The consultation period runs for a statutory 21 days. All responses and comments submitted within this period will be taken account of by the case officer when he produces his report. Late comments may or may not be considered.


The application may be a delegated decision ie the case officer will make the decision under delegated powers, or a committee decision ie the application will be presented in public at a Development Control meeting to the Planning Committee, made up of ward members.

If the application is taken to committee, the planning case officer’s report will be presented to the committee together with the decision recommendation ie approval (usually with conditions) or refusal.

Members of the public, including the developer or his agents eg planning consultants, are able to speak to the committee about their objections or in support of an application.

An application is taken to committee if it is a major development or which has a significant local impact, or if a local ward member has asked for it to be a committee decision rather than a devolved, case officer, decision.


If the planning application is refused, the developer can appeal against the decision. The community cannot appeal against a decision to approve an application.

An appeal is heard by a Planning Inspector. It may be dealt with through written representations, through a hearing or through a Public Inquiry.

The developer and the Local Planning Authority will present their arguments. The Inspector will see all the planning application documents including the public comments. Community members can submit additional comments to the Inspector.

Find out more about planning applications and how to respond