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Frequently asked questions: planning advice and guidance

Q: What happens if my planning application gets turned down?

A: If you have had your application turned down, you will be told why and you will be advised how you might overcome the issue that caused the application to be refused. You also have the right to appeal against the decision. Appeals are dealt with by independent inspectors.

Q: I think one of my neighbours is building something without planning permission. What should I do?

A: Your neighbour may not have needed planning permission. Small extensions to houses, garages etc. do not necessarily have to have planning permission. If you want to check to see if planning permission is needed, contact the planning office.

Q: What do I do if I think one of my neighbours is carrying on a business at home?

A: Some low-key business activities can take place in the home without the need for planning permission, but those that can cause disturbance to neighbours may well need permission. Contact the planning office if you have concerns. These sort of enquiries are always kept confidential so your neighbour won’t know you have enquired.

Q: My neighbour has got planning permission for a house extension but they're building it differently to the plans I have seen. Who do I tell?

A: They might have got permission to make a minor change to the plans. The planning application file, which is kept in the Planning Office and available to view online, would show whether the plans have been changed.

Q: How do I find out if a planning application has been made?

A: You can use the planning application search facility to find applications received or decided between 2 dates.

You may also search for individual applications and view attached documents and plans using the application search facility

Q: I have heard that plans have been put in to build houses/factories/shops near my house and I don't agree with the idea. What can I do?

A: First, come in and look at the plans. If you don’t like what you see, you can object.  Making an objection is very straightforward. All you need to do is to write down why you object and send or take this in to the planning office. When planning applications are submitted, the planning office will consult neighbouring residents and businesses. The Council is expected to make the decision about the application within 8 weeks from the date it is submitted and the normal consultation period is only 3 weeks. So it is essential that you do submit any objection as quickly as possible so that it can be taken into account in the decision making (see below).

Q: Why has the council accepted a planning application when there is so much opposition to it?

A: The Council has to. If someone puts in a planning application in the proper way, on the proper forms etc., we have to deal with it. We cannot refuse to accept a planning application.

Q: What happens if I get a petition up against a planning application?

A: Your petition will be reported to the development control committee. The committee meetings are usually held on Thursdays every 3 or 4 weeks. Dates are advertised on the Council’s website and on the notice boards outside the Town Hall. The planning office will tell you which committee meeting is hearing the application you are interested in. You have to fill in a form to say you want to speak and make sure that the form is returned to the Town Hall by 5pm on the Monday before the committee meeting. You will usually be allowed to speak for 3 minutes. This can vary if there are a lot of speakers on the same issue.

Q: Where can I go for independent advice to fight a planning proposal?

A: The planning office can let you have a leaflet about ‘planning aid’. Planning aid is staffed by volunteer, qualified planners, who will offer independent advice on a whole range of planning issues.

Q: If planning permission is refused on a deemed planning application at an enforcement appeal, is an additional fee payable if a further planning application is submitted in respect of the same site within 12 months?

A: If a further planning application is submitted by the same applicant, for the same site area, using the same description of development and within 12 months of the decision then no fee would be payable.

Q: What issues are taken into account when deciding a planning application?

A: It is important to understand that the Council can only take into account planning issues when determining an application. Consequently your comments should be restricted to relevant planning issues only. There is no exhaustive list of material planning considerations, but the following issues are likely to be relevant in most cases:-

  • Burnley local development plan

  • Government planning policy guidance

  • Case law and precedent 

  • Considerations of highway safety

  • Residential amenity

  • Noise, disturbance and smells

  • Design, appearance and layout

  • Impact on trees, listed buildings and conservation areas

  • Human Rights

Further information on material planning considerations

Q: What issues cannot be taken into account when deciding a planning application?

A: Examples of issues that are not planning matters include:

  • Loss of a view

  • Private rights such as restrictive covenants, private rights of way and rights to light

  • Ownership of land

  • Boundary or access disputes

  • Objections on grounds of business competition

  • Effects on property value

  • Morality or personal opinion

  • Matters covered by other legislation

  • The reputation of the applicant/developer

  • Nuisance caused by building work

  • Speculation about future developments

Further information about material considerations for planning applications

Q: How much time do I have to comment on a planning application?

A: You have 21 days from the date of the notification letter, site or press notice to submit any comments you wish to make about the application, although comments received after this deadline will be accepted provided that a decision has not been taken. We will not make a decision within the 21 day period.

Q: Should I get together a petition to comment on a planning application?

A: If you think that a lot of people will agree with you about a proposal, you can organise a petition. If you decide to do this, make sure it clearly refers to the application number, the address of the site, the reasons for objecting to or supporting the scheme, the name and address of each signatory and the name of the individual or organisation who has organised the petition.

It is often better to have a short petition that includes residents who would be directly affected by the proposal rather one that includes long list of people who do not live or work anywhere near the site in question.

Whilst petitions are a popular means of highlighting the views of local residents, a single letter can be equally effective.

Q: How can I make comments on a planning application?

A: Under planning law the Council must publicise all planning applications in order to give local residents or any other interested party the opportunity to submit their comments on the proposal. So it is up to you to have your say!

We welcome all comments on planning proposals whether they are in favour of the development or against it. They help us make the best decisions.

All comments must be made in writing and should clearly state your name, address, the proposal and reference number together with your reasons for either objecting to or supporting the application.

  • Comments can be submitted via the Online Planning Applications Comments Form .

  • Comments can be emailed to

  • Comments can be sent by letter addressed to Development Control, Town Hall, Manchester Road, Burnley, BB11 9SA.

Q: Can the comments I make on an application be seen by others?

A: You should be aware that under the provisions of the Local Government access to Information Act 1985, the Council is required to make any letters or petitions received available for public inspection. All letters are held with the planning application and may be inspected by the applicant or the general public.

You should not forget that the laws of libel are very strict. If you say something defamatory about a person that is untrue, even if you believe it to be true you may be at risk of legal action.

Q: What happens when I have made my comments on a planning application?

A: The planning officer will consider the consultation responses received together with the information contained in the application against the relevant policies contained in the local development plan and other material considerations. The planning officer will prepare a report and make a recommendation as to whether permission should be granted (subject to conditions) or whether it should be approved.

If the application is amended significantly after we have invited initial comments we will write to you again to advise you of this and give you a further 14 days to submit your comments on the amended scheme.

If the application is considered to be minor and uncontroversial the decision to approve or refuse planning permission will normally be taken by a relatively senior planning officer who has delegated powers to act on behalf of the Council. In all other cases the report and recommendation is submitted to the development control committee for decision.

If the application requires a committee decision you will not be notified of this but you can check the information and progress of the application through the Council's website or by contacting the case officer by email or phone.

You should be aware that local opposition or the fact that a large number of people have objecting to an application does not mean that the Council has to refuse permission.

Q: What happens after a planning decision has been made?

A: Decisions on planning applications are placed on the Council website shortly after a decision is made.  You can request a copy of any conditions imposed on a planning permission. These are also available online for decisions made since January 2005 and are listed on the individual decision notice.  You can view them using the application search facility

If the application is refused or the applicant is unhappy about any of the conditions imposed on a permission he/she has the right to appeal against the decision to the planning inspectorate. We will write to you if an appeal is submitted to advise you how to make further comments to an Inspector.

Once the development is underway if you have concerns that it is not being built in accordance with the approved plans or the conditions have not been followed, you should contact the planning office and we will check the situation and get back to you.

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