Planning FAQs

How do I apply?

You can make your planning application online through the Planning Portal. It is easy to use - after registering your name and address just follow the steps. It offers guidance at every stage and includes a final checklist. You can attach drawings and documents (e.g. a Design and Access Statement) and pay fees online.There is now a series of easy-to-follow video tutorials that take you through each stage of the process.

The Planning Portal is user friendly and, potentially, could save you the cost of agents and advisers. It can take time to apply, but you can save your work and come back to it at any time. See how to apply online for more details.

If you would rather submit your application by post, print off  the planning application forms and guidance and send your completed forms to us with a cheque.

Whether you are applying on line or by post, please read the guidance notes carefully. Also, please thoroughly check everything before sending your application. Getting it right first time can save a lot of time and trouble.

More information can be found on our 'How to apply for planning permission' page.

What is the cost?

Some applicatrions are free or have exemptions, e.g. work for people with disabilities. There is an online calculator and table of fees on our fees page.  Contact Development Control if you are unsure.

Can I get advice before I apply?

If you know you need to apply for permission but you can’t find the answers you need on the Planning Portal, go to our free Pre-application Advice service. For small scale proposals, you can contact a Planning Officer, over the phone or in person. For larger scale applications, such as a new building, there is a pre-application advice service which provides written guidance and advice.

These services are free and will give your application the best chance of success. Using them will also significantly reduce the chance of delays later on. Please note we do not normally consider amendments to applications where pre-application advice was not sought. 

What happens after I submit an application?

Your name, a brief description of your proposals and the status of your application will be published in the Planning Register.

We then check that we have all the information we need to decide your application. The information allows neighbours and others to see (and measure) exactly what the proposal contains, and its impact. Locally agreed requirements occasionally mean that we will ask for some additional information, e.g. a Design and Access Statement. All these requirements are clearly set out on our website.

If we have everything we need, your application is ‘valid’. A valid application is a statutory public document, which includes your application form and accompanying documents. 

Valid applications are then registered. This means that all the documents will be available to view at our offices and on the website in the Planning Register. This normally happens within 48 hours of your application being accepted as valid.

The information we need depends on the type of application you are submitting, so it is important to check the local requirements for your type of application. If you are using the Planning Portal, the site will link you directly to the relevant information.

Why is my application invalid?

If anything is missing from your application, the Planning Register will show your application as 'invalid', and the accompanying documents will not be published. We will write to you, or your representative or agent, explaining what else is needed and your application will be delayed.

If an application is invalid, in most cases, it is some minor omission from a drawing or plan, and we will always try to find the quickest way to put this right. We will contact you or your agent as soon as we know your application is invalid, normally within 3-5 days of receiving your application.

We are obviously not allowed to make any changes, however minor, to your application without you or your agents permission. Wherever possible we will seek this permission to avoid having to return your invalid application to you.

The date we receive your valid application will mark the beginning of the eight week period during which we make a decision on your application.

We will write to you, or your representative/agent, telling you the name of the planning officer dealing with your application.

Who is consulted about a planning application?

Consultation is an invitation to anyone who may be interested in the application to comment on it. Clear laws guide us about identifying who to consult on your application and we must allow at least 21 days for responses. Depending on the type of application, we may consult in the following ways:

  • individual letters to neighbours and others nearby
  • a site notice
  • a press advert
  • a weekly list, published on our website

We may also write to other council departments, our Conservation Advisory Group, amenity groups, or bodies such as the Environment Agency or English Heritage for their views on your proposal.

Our Statement of Community Involvement gives more information about our consultation standards.

Find out how to comment on a planning application.

How is a recommendation reached?

We will consider the consultation responses, check previous planning decisions on the site and surrounding area, and apply any relevant national or local planning policies and guidance. We will only take into account matters that are relevant to planning such as:

  • design and layout
  • external appearance and materials
  • access for disabled people
  • impact on the amenity of your neighbours such as loss of daylight or sunlight and privacy
  • noise nuisance
  • traffic and parking issues
  • loss of, or an increase in, a particular type or use of land

We will normally visit the site, and we may need to contact you to arrange access and a meeting on site. We may also look at your site from neighbouring properties or sites.

Please note that we will not normally consider amendments to an application in the absence of pre-application advice, or if your application is inconsistent with any written pre-application advice we have provided.

We will then write a report with a recommendation to grant or refuse your application. It is common for decisions to be granted subject to certain conditions. 

How is the decision made?

The Planning Committee, made up of councillors from all political parties represented on the council, makes decisions on the council's behalf. Planning decisions are not for the Executive or Cabinet to decide and the council's constitution contains a Protocol for Members regarding planning applications

In practice, with over 2,800 applications to consider, most applications (about 96%) are decided under 'delegated powers'. This means that the authority to decide the application has been delegated by the Planning Committee to specified senior officers.

The types of applications decided in this way are usually smaller-scale proposals such as alterations and small extensions, conversions, straightforward changes of use and new housing developments of up to nine units.

The Planning Comittee, which meets every three weeks, deals with decisions that cannot be decided under delegated powers. Councillors who make up the committee make the decisions, in public. You may be able to speak at the committee meeting according to our speaking at planning meeting protocols. The types of applications that are decided here include:

  • applications for ten or more units of housing
  • applications where there are more than five objections if the recommendation is to approve, or where there are more than five letters of support if the recommendation is for refusal
  • applications where the ward councillor, Conservation Advisory Group or the Disabled Access Advisory Group do not agree with the recommendation of officers, and request the Planning Committee to make the decision

Details of how decisions are delegated are found in the Constitution. 

When will I get a decision?

We aim to deal with householder and small scale applications within eight weeks. In practice it is rare for a decision to made significantly earlier than that time. The vast majority of smaller-scale applications, such as an advert, a small extension or window alterations, are decided within this timescale. More complicated or controversial proposals may take longer.

If we do not decide the application by the end of eight weeks, you can appeal. This is called a 'non-determination appeal'. You are strongly advised to contact your case officer or their Team Manager before doing this.

We will send you a formal decision letter as soon as possible after the decision is made. It will include reasons for the decision, including the reasons for any conditions that are applied to the development. If an Agent has been appointed to handle the application, we will only send the decision letter to them.

The decision will also be published on the Planning Register, normally one or two working days after the written decision has been sent out. If you are not the applicant, but you have sent in a comment on an application, please check the Planning Register as we will not contact you separately about the decision (unless you have sent us an SAE).

What if I am unhappy with the decision?

You have a right of appeal against the decision to the Planning Inspectorate. The inspectorate is independent from Brighton & Hove City Council. Their website has appeal forms, or you can appeal online via the Planning Portal.You can appeal against:

  • a refusal of planning permission
  • conditions attached to a planning approval
  • a decision not being made within eight weeks of us receiving a valid application - this is known as a deemed refusal. We advise you to contact the case officer before you make an appeal of this type
  • an enforcement notice relating to unauthorised development

If you need professional help

The Development Control service is here to help and advise you, but if your project is complex or controversial, or involves particular design or conservation expertise, you may want a professional to act for you. We cannot recommend any particular professional agent but you could try the following organisations. The list is not exhaustive and other professionals may be able to help you. Please save paper and administration by asking your agent to submit your application online.

If you have an agent, all correspondence and enquiries need to go through them, including the decision notice. 

We will assume your agent has advised you about the risks that may arise if you do not follow our advice. Your agent should also be able to advise you about the foreseeable issues associated with your proposal. So, if you have any problems with your application, including an invalid entry on the register, please contact your agent.