Development management - statement of community involvement

Our statement of community involvement is a legal statement. It sets out how we let people know about planning applications, how to get involved in planning decisions, how we let people know about planning decisions and the process for appealing planning decisions.

At Westmorland and Furness Council (“the Council”) we aim to put the community at the heart of everything that we do, listening to our residents and businesses when considering planning applications and drafting planning policies.

Planning helps to shape the places where we live, work, and play, and it is important that the community have ample opportunity to engage with these processes. This Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) has been produced to help people get involved, by informing them of how the Council will publicise the planning applications that it receives.

In order to carry out development in the Westmorland and Furness Council area, permission to do so must be granted by the Council through a formal application process. ‘Development’ has a legal definition, (Section 55 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)) but in summary it means that planning permission is usually required for:

  • building new structures
  • changing the use of existing structures or land, including mineral extraction; and
  • making extensions/modifications to buildings that aren’t covered by permitted development rights
  • in addition, applications are normally required for certain types of advertisements, for alterations to Listed buildings, and works to trees that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order

The Development Management Team is responsible for assessing planning applications for development.

They provide advice, determine applications and advise the Strategic Planning Committee and Local Area Planning Committees on Major and other types of applications.

All decisions on planning applications must be made in accordance with policies found within:

Exceptions are when there are other material considerations, such as site specific matters which relate specifically to the case, and which justify a different approach to be taken.

A key objective of the planning system is to strengthen community and stakeholder involvement. The Statement of Community Involvement for the Development Management Team sets out the approach which will be taken by the Council to engage the community in the planning process.

Pre-application process

The NPPF sets out the Governments expectation that Local Planning Authorities should approach decisions on proposed development in a positive and proactive way, working with applicants to secure developments that will improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area.

The NPPF also states that Local Planning Authorities should seek to approve applications for sustainable development without delay where possible.

The NPPF highlights the importance of pre-application engagement and states that a Local Planning Authority should encourage Applicants to engage in pre-application discussions prior to submitting a formal application for consideration.

The Council operates a comprehensive chargeable pre-application process for applicants for all scales of planning proposals, from householder extensions, proposed works to listed buildings, to minor and major residential and commercial development. Many applications can be contentious and so the pre-app service can identify any potential problems that need to be addressed beforehand to help speed up the application process and reduce the need for amendments at a later stage. Details of this service are available on the Council’s website.

Applications for Major development should be subject to wider community engagement by the applicant, prior to formal submission. This will inform the developer of any likely issues and enable schemes to be varied so that the likelihood of public challenge is reduced.

Publicity of applications

There are legal requirements for the publicity of applications. These are set out in:

For the majority of applications, the Council will exceed the minimum legal requirements

The information below set out the consultations and range of publicity which the Council will carry out to ensure a thorough and meaningful consultation process to provide the community with an opportunity to engage in the planning process and comment on proposals.

The Council will undertake the following:

  • send individual letters to adjoining and nearby residents. With such a procedure each adjoining property should as a minimum be notified
  • a site notice will be displayed on every site which involves a departure from the development plan, major development, works to listed buildings, development in the conservation area or if the site is adjacent to open land
  • some more significant applications are required, by statute, to be subject to formal advertisement in the local newspaper
  • applications will be published on the Council Website
  • consult Parishes / Town Councils on all applications in their area
  • consult Ward Councillors on all applications in their area
  • comparable procedures apply with respect to significant amendment proposals for applications.

The Council will generally not carry out any consultation on Certificates of lawfulness of existing use or development, discharge of condition applications, prior approvals and non-material amendments.

Site notices

Where relevant site notices will be displayed on or adjoining the application site on an appropriate structure such as a telegraph pole, streetlight, or fence/wall/gate so that they are viewable from a public vantage point. The site notice(s) will be displayed by a Council Officer who will determine the most appropriate position for the site notice(s).

The site notice will provide details of:

For most applications, the timescale by which representations shall be made would be 21 days except for those accompanied by an Environmental Statement where it shall be a minimum of 30 days.

Letters to adjoining properties (notification letters)

The Council will send letters to adjoining properties to notify the owners/occupiers that an application has been submitted for consideration.

The notification letters provide details of:

For most applications, the timescale by which representations shall be made would be 21 days except for those accompanied by an Environmental Statement where it shall be a minimum of 30 days.

In some cases, residents may feel they could be affected by a proposal and/or wish to make representations on an application but have not received a notification letter from the Local Planning Authority.

The extent of letter coverage will be relative to the scale and nature of the proposal so in some cases not all residents will receive a notification letter. However, if an owner/occupier has not received a notification letter they are still able to submit representations on the application.

Newspaper publication

Where relevant the Council will publish a notice of applications in a newspaper circulating in the locality where the land to which the application relates is situated. The notice will provide:

For most applications, the timescale by which representations shall be made would be 21 days except for those accompanied by an Environmental Statement where it shall be a minimum of 30 days.

How to view and comment on applications

All current applications are available to view. Search for current applications our website

The system provides access to the submitted plans, supporting documents, and consultations responses received.

Representations to an application can be made online on the Council’s Public Access website, please note that email is the preferred method of communication.

Representations can also be submitted in writing or as a separate email to the Local Planning Authority quoting the relevant application number.

All representation received in connection with applications will be summarised in officer delegated and committee reports.

The Council reserves the right to redact or exclude any comments which in its judgement are libellous, offensive, defamatory, threatening, abusive, or contravenes the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 or any other legislation.

When considering representations, the Council can only take into account material planning considerations, which may include:

  • local, strategic, and national planning policies
  • the design of the proposed development
  • highway issues: traffic generation, vehicular access, highway/pedestrian safety
  • the effect on the amenity of neighbouring premises (for example: impact such as overlooking, overbearing, overshadowing, loss of natural light, noise, smell, fumes)
  • the impact upon trees/ecology, specific heritage assets, or the wider historic environment
  • capacity of physical infrastructure such as roads and social facilities such as schools
  • previous appeal decisions

The Council cannot take into account representations which raise non-material planning considerations, which may include;

  • perceived effects on property value
  • loss of a view
  • boundary disputes, private covenants or private interests such as Rights of Way
  • suspicion about future intentions
  • the personal circumstances of the applicant

The Council will notify anyone who has submitted representations on an application where;

The application is due to be referred to the Council’s Planning Committee for determination.

A copy of the decision notice and either the Delegated or Committee Report will also be published on the Council’s Public Access website.

The Council may also notify anyone who has submitted representations on an application where:

Revised/Additional Plans/Supporting Documentation have been submitted by the applicant/agent and where the Local Planning Authority has accepted this information. The decision on whether to undertake further consultation on any revised or additional plans/supporting documentation will depend on the nature, scale and significance of this information. Where in its judgement the Local Planning Authority considers it necessary to undertake further consultation, the length of any re-consultation (that is: whether to reconsult for 21, 14 or 7 days) will also depend on this factor


The Council recognises that petitions are an acceptable method of representation where it relates to a single issue that the Authority has responsibility for. A petition submitted in relation to a planning application must have the application number, and a clear statement covering the nature of the petition. The petition should have the contact details of the organiser, including name, an address within the Authority boundary, a contact telephone number and email. We will consider that person to be the petition organiser. This is the person who will be contacted to explain how the petition will be responded to. If no organiser is identified, normally only the first person on the list will be contacted.

The Council will not respond to all persons who have signed the petition as this would potentially exhaust Council resources and lead to delays in processing an application.

Pre-printed circular letters

Pre-printed circular letters of objection or objection forms will be accepted as valid provided that they are individually signed and dated. The coordinator of such campaigns should make themselves known to the relevant Planning Case Officer.

Parish/town councils

The Parish Council will be consulted on all applications for planning permission, listed building consent and advertisement consent. The parish council will not be informed of ‘prior notification determinations’ as these are notifications where the Local Planning Authority only has a limited number of days in which to provide a formal response and these developments have a ‘deemed consent’ and therefore do not require planning permission.

The Parish Council will be consulted and given 21 days in which to reply. Responses received after the 21 day consultation period may not be taken into account as the application may have already been determined.

The planning case officer can agree to extend the Parish Council consultation period, but this can only be agreed through a written request from the Parish Clerk.

If the parish council require further information or advice, they are advised to contact the case officer for a particular application.

Decision-making and planning committee

Minor applications are generally determined under delegated powers as set in the scheme of delegation. The Strategic or Area planning committee makes decisions on applications under certain other circumstances as detailed in the Councils delegation scheme.

For those applications determined by committee, member of the public will be allowed to speak if they have registered for their right to speak.

Requests to speak at planning committee

Members of the public are permitted to address the Planning Committee and the following protocols relate to the procedures adopted:

  • In accordance with the Council Procedure Rules, any person (including Councillors, Parish representatives, applicants, objectors and supporters) may seek to address the Planning Committee by making representations in relation to any matter which appears on the agenda for that meeting

  • Any person who wishes to address the Committee should request to do so in writing to the Committee Services team no later than 0:01am (one minute past midnight) three working days before the date of the Planning Committee. Planning Committee usually takes place on a set day dependent upon the legacy area

  • a speaker must provide a written summary (bullet points) of the issues that they intend to raise, together with copies of any illustrative material, no later than one working day before the meeting. Circulating previously unseen material at the meeting will not be permitted

  • Committee Services will acknowledge all requests to speak within two working days of receipt of that request

The following procedure will apply at the meeting:

  • the Planning Officer will present the application outlining what the proposal is about, identifying the issues relevant to the application and concluding with a recommendation to Members

  • for the area committees, the public speakers will then address the committee. The public participation element will allow up to three objectors and three supporters to speak on a particular item. Furthermore, each speaker will be allowed up to five minutes, therefore this will result up to a maximum of 15 minutes for objectors and 15 minutes for supporters, resulting a maximum public participation time limit of up to 30 minutes for each item

  • for the strategic committee public speakers will address the committee. The public participation element will allow up to five objectors and five supporters to speak on a particular item. Furthermore, each speaker will be allowed up to five minutes, therefore this will result up to a maximum of 25 minutes for objectors and 25 minutes for supporters, resulting a maximum public participation time limit of up to 50 minutes for each item

  • if more than 3 (or 5 for the Strategic committee) people apply to speak either as a supporter or opponent, places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. (A larger group should consider electing spokespersons) However other neighbour comments will be reported in the normal way in the officer’s committee report

  • if an application is deferred after an Objector/ Supporter has spoken they will not be allowed to speak again when the matter is referred back to Committee for a decision

  • Planning officers will be given the opportunity to respond to any of the public speaker’s comments

  • the opportunity will then be given for the officer to be questioned by the Committee

  • If a member of the Committee has a question, that is materially relevant to the determination of the application, where the officer does not hold the information requested, but a person who has spoken on the application may do so. The Chair may use his/her discretion to ask the relevant speaker to provide the information requested if he or she is able to do so or allow a short recess to allow the officer to research the matter. It may sometimes be necessary to defer the item until the next meeting

  • The Committee will then debate the proposals and come to a decision.

The planning committee public participation scheme set out how you can to ask questions, make comment or present deputations or petitions at committee meetings.

Notifications of decisions

Neighbour Notification letters state that all planning application decision notices are published on the council’s website and advise that any affected/interested parties should check the website to find out the outcome of any planning application or liaise directly with the case officer.

Planning appeals

If an appeal is lodged against the Council’s decision, notification is sent to all the consultees originally notified of the application, relevant ward members and Parish Councils along with any other third parties that made representations on the planning application.

This provides an opportunity for them to make further representations to the Planning Inspectorate, although all previous representations are forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate for their consideration.

Appeals can take the form of Written Representations, Informal Hearings and Public Inquiries. Site notices will only be posted in the case of a Public Inquiry. Appeal decisions are published on our website.