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Have your say on planning applications

District and borough councils deal with planning applications for building, extending or converting homes, offices or shops.

Surrey County Council deals only with applications for minerals or waste-related developments, and for developments to its own property, such as schools and libraries.

Have your say

All applications for planning permission made to Surrey County Council are subject to public consultation. Anybody who hears of a planning application may make comments on the proposal.

We have gathered some commonly asked questions and tried to answer them here.

How do you know when a planning application has been submitted?

The County Council is required to publicise planning applications in accordance with Surrey's Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). We do this by posting a site notice(s) and sending letters to immediate neighbours who may be affected by a proposal. This includes all householders who share a boundary with the application site. Since it is not economic for us to individually notify thousands of households about a single application you may not receive a neighbour notification letter.

For large application sites several notices will be posted nearby. For very large schemes, or where the proposed development means that more than the immediate neighbours may be affected, a formal notice will also be placed in a local newspaper.

Newspaper adverts are required for certain types of application. These are:

  • applications for all minerals and waste developments;
  • applications for County Council developments over 1,000 sq m;
  • applications that fall within or would affect the character of a Conservation Area; or which would affect the character or setting of a Listed Building;
  • applications which are accompanied by an Environmental Statement; or
  • applications for developments that are in conflict with adopted planning policies.

In special cases, we will also issue a press release outlining a proposal.

Information is available on our online register about planning applications and decisions. You can also use it to check on the progress of applications under consideration.

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Where do you get information about a planning application?

Copies of the application documents will be available for inspection at

  • the District/Borough Council offices
  • Surrey County Council offices given in the publicity.

Planning application documents received or validated after the 1 June 2015 are available to view or download from our online register.

Some District/Borough Councils post copies of some application documents on their websites, but they are not required by law to make everything available electronically.

If you are unclear about where the application site is, or what is being the proposed in the application please contact the person named in the publicity, who will explain it to you.

The application will be assessed against policies in the Development Plan which includes the Surrey Minerals Plan Core Strategy Development Plan 2011 and Surrey Waste Plan 2008, and the policies in the relevant District or Borough Local Plan. Relevant Government planning policy and guidance will also be considered.

The Surrey Minerals Local Plan and the Surrey Waste Plan can viewed at County Hall in Kingston upon Thames, in your local library or on the Internet. Your District/Borough Council will also have copies of these plans and their own plans available for public viewing. If you wish to see any of these documents, please check on their availability before setting out.

In some cases, applicants may prepare their own publicity materials, or exhibitions explaining the proposals. These will be publicised by the applicant.

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How can you influence planning decisions?

You can have your say by

  • Contacting your local County Councillor who will be able to take views on applications within his or her area to the Planning and Regulatory Committee.
  • Contacting your District Councillor who may be able to help.
  • Sending your comments in writing to the Planning Development Team by post or by email to Every representation will be acknowledged and considered in the course of deciding the application. It is not possible to respond individually to each representation. Please include your name and full postal address*.
  • Petition - the acknowledgement will be sent to the organiser or the first name appearing on the petition.
  • Using our online comments form.
  • If you belong to a local interest group, or if one exists and you are not a member, take part in their discussions about the application. Sometimes it is possible for groups to meet with the applicant or representatives of the Council to discuss concerns and devise solutions.

*Planning is a statutory function and any information is held on the lawful basis of public task (in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as amended, related orders and regulations). If you have submitted a planning application to Surrey County Council or made a comment on a planning application, your name, address and contact details will be saved in our files, electronic and paper. We do this so we can notify you of amendments to the proposal, the outcome of the application, if an appeal is lodged against the application, and subsequent applications in respect of the site. This information will be retained indefinitely as part of the background information on which the planning decision has been based. Additionally, all submissions will be sent to the relevant Borough or District Council to be placed on the Planning Register as this is their responsibility. In the event of an appeal or a 'call-in' by the Secretary of State, your submissions may be copied to the Planning Inspectorate or the National Planning Casework Unit.

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What should you comment upon?

Decisions on planning applications are limited by law to specific issues known as 'material considerations'. It is, therefore, best if you keep to these issues since anything else must be ignored. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your comments must relate to the use of land and should be directed to policies contained within the national and local planning documents. The adopted development plan, such as the Waste, Minerals or Local Plan is the starting point. Though committee members must take local views into account when making their decision, local opposition or support for a proposal is not in itself a reason for refusing or granting planning permission.

Each planning application is judged on its own merits, so what is important in each case will differ. However, as a rule of thumb, the most common issues are the following:

  • location and setting;
  • traffic that might be generated by the scheme and the impact on the road network;
  • design, layout, landscaping and external appearance of buildings;
  • impact upon the neighbourhood and existing infrastructure;
  • the possible effects of pollution on land;
  • the proposed after use of the site and restoration of the land;
  • hours of working, noise, dust and other factors affecting amenity.

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Is there anything that you may not comment upon?

It is important to note that the planning system does not exist to protect the private interests of one person against the activities of another. Reduced property value, for example, would not be material. However, the protection of individuals is an important aspect of the public interest as a whole. The basic question is not whether individuals would suffer loss from a development, but whether it would unacceptably affect amenities which ought to be protected in the public interest. Good neighbourliness and fairness are among the yardsticks against which proposals can be measured.

In the UK, the planning and pollution control systems are separate but complementary. The Environment Agency controls pollution and the planning system should not duplicate its duties. Therefore, if you have concerns about detailed pollution matters, please contact the Environment Agency directly (general enquiries number: 03708 506 506.

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How long do you have to respond?

We are required to give the applicant a decision within 13 weeks of validation of the application for mineral and waste related development and 8 weeks in the case of applications for County Council development. The period is 16 weeks if the application (all types) is accompanied by an environmental statement. In practice, it is recognised by planning authorities and developers alike that some proposals are more complex and will take longer to process. In these situations, an extended time period to determine the application is often agreed by both sides to allow the application and issues raised to be properly considered. However, the period to send in your representations on an application will be shorter. The publicity on applications will specify a date by when comments should be submitted to the Planning Department.

Although we are not obliged to take account of representations received outside this period the County Council try to take account of any late views that may be received before a decision is made, but this cannot be guaranteed. We will endeavour to ensure all relevant comments are made available to the decision makers (the Planning and Regulatory Committee or Head of Service if decisions are being made under delegated powers).

For planning applications being determined by the Planning and Regulatory Committee the deadline for receipt of representations to be taken into account is midday (12 noon) on the day before an application is reported to committee. Delaying your representation means that your comments might not be incorporated into the written report. Written comments are publicly available and cannot be treated as confidential. Please note that in order to speak at the Committee we must have received a written representation from you on the planning application in question at least 14 days in advance of the meeting. Full details of the public speaking scheme procedure can be found with useful information on the public speaking scheme procedure.

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Further advice

If you require further advice, you can contact Planning Aid, a voluntary service offering free, independent and professional advice on town planning matters to community groups and individuals.

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How do you find out what the Council's decision was?

When a decision has been made, anyone who has made representations in writing (and provided their name and full postal address) will be sent a letter informing them of the decision. Where a petition has been submitted, the organiser or first name appearing on the petition will be notified. Newspaper adverts are placed to publicise decisions on applications accompanied by environmental statements. Decision notices will be available for inspection during normal working hours at the Borough or District council offices, or at County Hall, Kingston upon Thames. Decisions taken after 1 December 2005 will also be available to view via our online register.