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Planning application process

An overview of the planning application process, including what to do before you apply, how we consider an application and links to further information.

We are currently taking action to address a backlog in applications. Please visit our 'planning applications backlog' page for more information.

Planning can be a complex process, and it can be hard to know where to start. Below we've explained the steps before, during and after applying (with links to further information), and what happens after we've made a decision:

  1. Check if you need planning permission
  2. Get pre-application advice
  3. Make a planning application
  4. The application process
  5. Negotiations and amendments
  6. The decision
  7. After the decision is made

You can also find detailed information on how planning decisions are made on the Planning Portal.

Check if you need planning permission

Before starting any building work, it is essential that you check whether you need planning permission, to send us a notification, or require any other consent (you should also check whether you need Building Regulations approval). If you do not check, you may be breaking the law and we may take enforcement action against you.

You will probably need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your building (such as an outbuilding or extension), or change the use of your building or land. If you live in a listed building, a conservation area, or near protected trees, even small alterations may require permission.

However, in some cases, you can do certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are known as 'permitted development rights' - you can find out more, including where to get further advice, on our permitted development page.

To check whether your proposed development requires planning permission, please use our free-to-use service, where you can quickly and easily check if your proposal is considered to be permitted development.

This service is currently in beta. We would encourage any feedback and comments which will help improve the service in the future.

You can also find further information about permitted development on the Planning Portal.

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Get pre-application advice

Speaking to us before making your application is likely to improve the efficiency of the process for everyone involved. If we can help you to resolve issues and minimise risks at the pre-application stage, there's a greater chance that the development will be acceptable (or can be made acceptable) and a greater chance that the application will be successful.

Our pre-application advice service is available to anyone wanting help with a development before submitting a planning application.

We strongly encourage you to use our pre-application advice service.

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Make a planning application

We strongly recommend that you use a planning agent to assist you through the application process.

We also strongly recommend that you make your application online via the Planning Portal. It's easy to register and you can complete your planning application form, upload supporting documents and pay fees online (by credit or debit card) or over the phone.

If you cannot apply online, you can find paper forms on the Planning Portal or our planning forms page.


What to submit with your application

We determine all planning applications against national and local planning policies - you can find out more about local planning policy on our Planning Policy pages and view the National requirements on the GOV.UK website.

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) will be implemented in January/February 2024 - visit our biodiversity and the natural environment page for further information.

For an application to be valid and registered, you will need to meet both national and local validation requirements. During your application we may also request additional information in order to determine your proposal.

Our Icon for pdf Local List of Documents [99KB]  explains which documents you need to submit.

Please also read the relevant validation checklist and guidance documents that accompany your application. These will tell you everything you need to submit a valid application with West Berkshire Council.

We have been working on updating the Local Validation Checklists and Local Lists of Requirements. We consulted with relevant stakeholder groups in September 2023. We want to get quality information submitted at the outset to avoid delays during the consideration of the application, or finding at a later stage that we cannot positively determine schemes due to inadequate information.

If you are a regular user of our service, please check this section before submission to ensure you have the latest information on submission requirements.


You can find out about fees and payments for planning applications here.

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The application process

While there are minor differences for different application types and proposals, the process that all planning applications go through is broadly the same:

Validation and registration

Once you have submitted your application, we will check whether all forms and documentation are complete to make sure we have received everything you say you have submitted. We will validate it if it appears that all required documents have been submitted. 

However, if at a later stage we find that certain required information or documentation is not included, then the application may be invalidated. We will inform you if this happens.

Once validated, the application will be registered and given a unique reference number, which you can use to search for and track the progress of your application. Your application will be acknowledged and we will give you details of the registration and the case officer initially dealing with the case (if you use an agent, all dealings on your case will be through your agent).



We will undertake a period of consultation on most applications where consultees and the public can share their views on the proposed development. The formal consultation period will normally last for 21 days.

We will identify and consult a number of different groups - this normally includes:

  • public consultation: consultation with neighbouring residents, premises and community groups - this is usually through a public notice displayed on or near the site; for certain types of application, we will also include a notice in the local newspaper
  • statutory consultees: where there is a requirement set out in law to consult relevant experts such as the Highway Authority or Environment Agency, or local representatives such as the Town or Parish Council
  • non-statutory consultees: where there are planning policy reasons to engage other consultees who, whilst not designated in law, are likely to have an interest and/or relevant expertise in a proposed development

Any comments made in response will appear on our public website, although we will not publish any personal contact details.

During the consultation period we ask that you do not contact the case officer, as they will not be able to provide any guidance on your proposal until all responses are received. You will be able to see any comments made on the public website as they are received and uploaded.

Because we receive a lot of comments on planning applications, we will not respond to any third party representations. However, your comments will be acknowledged and taken into account by the planning officer in their assessment of the proposal. Planning officers will not be available to meet with third parties.


Planning officer site visit

For many applications, the case officer will make a site visit to help assess the application and to place a site notice.

The case officer will normally be unaccompanied and will not usually make specific arrangements. However, if access to the site is not possible without specific arrangement, please make this clear in your application.

You can find out more on our site visits page.


End of the consultation period

Once all comments are received and the site visit has taken place, the case officer is in a position to assess the proposal, considering all the material facts. The case officer may be able to proceed with making a recommendation, or may need to gather more information or negotiate amendments.

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Negotiations and amendments

The case officer can negotiate on proposals when the planning application is under consideration, but this is not a substitute for a well prepared, clear and complete planning application submission. Negotiations are at the discretion of the case officer.

You can find out more about what negotiations and amendments are generally accepted (for householder, non-major, major and time sensitive applications) on our negotiation and amendments during a planning application page.

For strategic or particularly complex development proposals, Planning Performance Agreements should be used to agree a work programme, including negotiations and any amendments during the consideration of the application.

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The decision

Once the case officer has been through your application and the process above is complete, the planning application will then be decided.

A planning application can be decided (we often use the term 'determined') in one of two ways: a decision made under 'delegated authority', or a decision by Planning Committee.

Decision under delegated authority involves a senior planning officer who is authorised to make the decision. Alternatively, a planning application can be determined by a planning committee. Decisions made at a planning committee are usually related to major developments, council-owned land, or applications that have given rise to petitions or multiple letters of objection from the public or other interested parties.

Find out more about delegated authority and planning committee decisions (including attending a committee meeting) on our planning decisions page.

The decision outcome

The outcome of the decision will be either:

  • approval (most of the time subject to conditions controlling things such as the use of external materials)
  • refusal (with explanatory reasons)

Once the decision has been made, we will send a decision notice to the applicant or their agent electronically.

Please see below for information regarding planning permission granted with conditions.


You can use our Public Access system to find out about a current planning application under consideration, or a planning decision for a development you are interested in.

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After the decision is made

Planning conditions

Where planning permission is granted with conditions (for example stating which materials should be used, the replanting of trees, or similar obligations), you will need to comply with these conditions. Some of the conditions may be 'pre-conditions' which require you to do something or submit further information, either before work starts (including site preparation, excavation and demolition) or by the time or stage of development specified in the condition.

You must follow the process to submit the additional information to discharge and confirm compliance with these conditions before the development has full planning approval.

Where the condition specifies that details must be agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority, this must be dealt with as a formal application. The application would either be an 'Approval of Details Reserved by Condition', or 'Removal or Variation of Condition (S73)'.

Please ensure these types of conditions have been satisfied and that, where specified, you have received formal written approval from the council, either prior to the work beginning or by the specified stage of development as required by the condition. Failure to do so could invalidate the planning permission and render any works unlawful and liable to enforcement action.


Making changes after permission has been granted

When planning permission is granted, development must take place in accordance with the permission and conditions attached to it, and with any associated legal agreements.

However, if new issues arise after planning permission has been granted, you may need to amend the approved proposals. See our amending an approved application page for further information on what you can amend and how to amend an approved permission/condition.


Applicant's right to appeal against refusal or planning conditions

If you are the applicant, you have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if you are unhappy with our decision on your planning application. This may be because you feel it's been refused unfairly or because you disagree with conditions that have been imposed.

If your appeal is rejected, you may wish to get expert advice. You may then wish to make an amended application, or resubmission.

Re-engaging with the council

Whilst applicants have a right to appeal against refused planning applications, the government strongly encourages applicants to re-engage with the local planning authority to see whether concerns can be overcome by a re-submitted application. Planning appeals should not be used to change proposals, and the Planning Inspectorate will not normally accept amended plans.

The decision notice will give clear reasons for refusal, and the officer's report will also provide an explanation of the assessment and the council's concerns or objections. Applicants can also re-engage with the council using the pre-application advice service before re-submitting an application.

Third parties

If you are unhappy about a planning decision made on someone else's application, you cannot appeal on planning grounds as there is no third party right of appeal.

However, if you think that the application was not handled correctly, you can make a complaint to the council by referring to our complaint procedure. This will, however, only consider the processes involved in reaching the decision and will not consider the council's planning assessment and decision. The decision itself cannot be reconsidered through the complaint procedure.

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