How to view a current
Most Councils are very keen to have public access to their records. Online
Planning applications for public viewing is a great example of what can be achieved if Central Government
chooses to wave its big waggy stick.
HOW DO I VIEW PLANNING AUTHORITY DOCUMENTS?
Local Councils recognise that planning serves the public interest and that planning
decisions affect everyone. In making decisions Councils take account of views from the public and believe that
the essence of an effective planning service is that people are encouraged and enabled to participate.
This guidance note describes what information is available from local Councils, in what form, where and
when it can be obtained and if you will be expected to pay for this information.
Many Local Councils now have public access and application inspection routes via
the Councils Web Site and more councils are coming on line every week with this great service. Ask your own council
if the have this facility.
Local Councils main legal obligations are:
(a) Local Government Act 1972 (as amended)
This gives the public the right to inspect and copy the following
the agenda for a Council committee or sub-committee meeting;
reports for the public part of the meeting;
the minutes of such meetings;
any background papers, including planning applications, used in preparing
These documents can be inspected and copied from three clear days before a
meeting. There is no charge to inspect a document but Councils will charge for making photocopies.
(b) Copyright Design and Patent's Act 1988
This allows the copying of material that is required to be held on a public
register. Copyright is not infringed providing that certain conditions are met. The effect is to allow planning
information to be inspected at a more convenient time and place than would otherwise be the case. Councils will
make a charge for any copies made.
(a) Buildings of special architectural and historic interest and conservation
Under the terms of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act
1990, local Councils must maintains a list of buildings within their Boroughs, which have been classified as being
of special architectural or historic interest. Councils also keep maps showing which properties are within
In accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements)
Regulations 1992, Councils need to maintain a publicly available register of applications and decisions for consent
to display advertisements.
(c) Council's own development
The Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 1992 ensures that
information relating to proposed development by Councils cannot be treated as exempt when the planning decision is
(d) Development Control
Every Council must keep the following registers available for public inspection
in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure Order 1995:
planning applications, including accompanying plans and drawings;
applications for a Certificate of Lawfulness of existing or proposed use or
Enforcement Notices and any related Stop Notices
All applications for planning permission must receive publicity. Please contact
to receive a copy of the Council's guidance note on 'Publicity for Planning Applications'.
What additional information is available?
Notwithstanding the legal requirement to make the planning register available
for public inspection, Councils normally believe that it would help the public if they had access to all the
relevant information, including any letters of objection/support for an application or correspondence about
considerations which are material to the application. Therefore from three clear days before any committee meeting,
the file will normally be made available for public inspection and the file will remain available for public
inspection after the committee meeting. Although commercial confidentiality may be a valid issue, the Council will
not use it unreasonably to prevent important information which is material being placed in the public