Planning

Thinking of applying to B&NES Council for planning permission? 

For information for residents considering making a planning application to B&NES Council, please find a guidance note written by an SPC Councillor here. Information for residents considering changes to their front gardens and driveways can be found here.

What powers does Saltford Parish Council have with respect to planning applications?

Saltford Parish Council is consulted by the relevant Planning Authority (which is usually Bath and North East Somerset Council) regarding planning applications.

Any views expressed by the Parish Council will be taken into account by the Planning Authority before a decision is made, providing the points made are relevant to the determination of a planning application.

The final decision on any planning application is made by B&NES Council, the Planning Authority, not Saltford Parish Council. 

Saltford Parish Council’s comments will focus on what are known as “material considerations”, detailed below.

Do parish councils grant planning permission?

  • Town and parish councils are not Planning Authorities. Town and parish councils are only statutory consultees in the planning process.
  • This means that they only have the right to be informed of planning applications within the parish.
  • They cannot approve or reject planning applications.
  • They can only comment on planning applications in the same way that individuals can comment.
  • Consequently the length of time taken to determine a planning application is governed by the local planning authority not the parish council.
  • A parish council can request that it be given extra time to comment on an application.
  • The decision whether this is granted rests solely with the planning authority and its own deadlines for decision making.
  • Please note that Parish Councillors are not planning experts, and as such any advice on planning applications should be sought from officers at the planning authority. Each planning application will have been assigned a case officer.

How does Saltford Parish Council comment on planning applications?

  • Parish councils can generally only agree to comment on planning applications in properly called council or committee meetings which the public can attend. (During the COVID19 pandemic, delegated powers can be used to determine planning applications should meetings not be possible in line with government guidance).
  • The Parish Council can either support an application, object to it, or offer comments. Formal objection can be made only if, in the Council’s opinion, the proposals conflict with a policy, or policies, in the Local Plan.
  • The comments agreed in the council meeting are submitted in writing by the Parish Clerk to the relevant planning authority – usually B&NES Council. These will appear on the B&NES Council planning portal once received. Draft minutes from a Parish Council meeting are usually published a week after a meeting, these are displayed on SPC's website and on the noticeboard.
  • Parish councils are statutory consultees and have no powers to approve or reject planning applications, they can only comment or not on applications.

How can members of the public make their views known?

· Details of all Saltford planning applications can be found on Bath & North East Somerset Council's planning applications search page. Members of the public can make their views known by submitting their comments to the planning authority via this Planning Portal. 

· Saltford Parish Council’s councillors view any comments made on the B&NES Council Planning Portal prior to a meeting at which a decision will be discussed and resolved. As such SPC advises residents to comment on applications sooner rather than later. Please note that each application has a deadline for consultation responses stated on the B&NES Council planning portal.

· Members of the public are welcome to contact the Parish Council in advance of a meeting to share their views about an application or to find out details of the meeting where the item will be discussed. Please note any comments made to the Parish Council will not be passed on by the Parish Council on behalf of the resident to the planning authority – these must be submitted directly by a resident to the planning authority. You can contact SPC at clerk@saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk or by using the 'Contact Us' page on our website.

· Members of the public can speak at a public meeting about any agenda item during ‘Public Time’. Please see details on SPC’s ‘meetings dates, agendas and minutes’ page.

· Please see below for how to be notified about planning applications. Please note that it is not within Saltford Parish Council’s mandate or resource to directly seek consultation with residents regarding any planning application. Saltford Parish Council does not send letters notifying neighbours of planning applications to be discussed by the Parish Council The onus is on a member of the public to contact the Parish Council prior to a meeting where the item will be discussed. Meeting dates are on the SPC website. SPC publishes its notice of a meeting and an agenda a few days before a meeting. The agenda will detail any planning application to be discussed and resolved. SPC also shares this information via its social media pages, please see our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

How can members of the public find out about planning applications?

· It is the responsibility of the Planning Authority to inform nearby residents and the Parish Council about planning applications. This is usually done by letter. Should you have any questions regarding this please contact B&NES Council.

· To sign up to receive notifications from B&NES Council about planning applications near you visit https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/webforms/PlanningNotifications/

· Saltford residents can also view planning applications near their property by entering their post code in the “Services in Your Area” box at the top right hand side of the home page of www.bathnes.gov.uk

· If residents wish to see planning applications for Saltford received, under consideration and/or consultation by B&NES Council that are likely to be considered by SPC at a forthcoming SPC monthly meeting, these can be found on the B&NES Council website's weekly list at https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/webforms/planning/search.html#weeklyList However please feel free to contact SPC to find out when a planning application will be, or has been, discussed.

Stages of the planning decision making process by B&NES Council (the planning authority)

Every application is different, but the process each goes through should be the same. The different stages are: Validation; Publicity and Consultation; Consideration; Negotiation; Recommendation; Decision; Appeal or Resubmission. Further details on this process can be found on the B&NES Council website here.

Saltford Parish Council is involved during the second stage of the process - 'Publicity and Consultation'. Parish Councils have 'statutory consultation' status, that is, B&NES Council (the planning authority) must notify and consult with Saltford Parish Council regarding any planning applications received in Saltford.

Valid reasons for comments on a Planning Application

Comments that are clear, concise and accurate stand more chance of being accepted than those that are not. When planning applications are considered, the following matters can all be relevant. These are sometimes referred to as ‘material planning considerations’ - please note the information below is for general reference and not specifically for Saltford:

  • Central government policy and guidance - Acts, Circulars, Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) etc.
  • The Development Plan - and any review of the Development Plan.
  • Adopted supplementary guidance - for example, village design statements, conservation area appraisals, car parking standards.
  • Replies from statutory and non-statutory agencies (e.g. Environment Agency, Highways Authority).
  • Representations from others - neighbours, amenity groups and other interested parties so long as they relate to land use matters.
  • Effects on an area - this includes the character of an area, availability of infrastructure, density, over-development, layout, position, design and external appearance of buildings and landscaping
  • The need to safeguard valuable resources such as good farmland or mineral reserves.
  • Highway safety issues - such as traffic generation, road capacity, means of access, visibility, car parking and effects on pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Public services - such as drainage and water supply
  • Public proposals for using the same land
  • Effects on individual buildings - such as overlooking, loss of light, overshadowing, visual intrusion, noise, disturbance and smell.
  • Effects on a specially designated area or building - such as green belt, conservation areas, listed buildings, ancient monuments and areas of special scientific interest.
  • Effects on existing tree cover and hedgerows.
  • Nature conservation interests - such as protection of badgers, great crested newts etc.
  • Public rights of way
  • Flooding or pollution.
  • Planning history of the site - including existing permissions and appeal decisions.
  • A desire to retain or promote certain uses - such as playing fields, village shops and pubs.
  • Need for the development - such as a petrol station
  • Prevention of crime and disorder
  • Presence of a hazardous substance directly associated with a development
  • Human Rights Act
  • Precedent - but only where it can be shown there would be a real danger that a proposal would inevitably lead to other inappropriate development (for example, isolated housing in the countryside)

Irrelevant reasons for objection

There are certain matters which do not amount to ‘material planning considerations’ under current legislation and guidance. These matters cannot be taken into account in considering a planning application:

  • Speculation over future use
  • The identity of the applicant or occupant
  • Unfair competition
  • Boundary disputes
  • Breach of covenants and personal property rights, including personal (not Public) rights of way
  • Loss of a private view
  • Devaluation of property
  • Other financial matters
  • Matters controlled by other legislation - such as internal space standards for dwellings or fire prevention
  • Religious or moral issues - such as betting shops and amusement arcades
  • The fact that the applicant does not own the land to which the application relates
  • The fact that an objector is a tenant of land where the development is proposed
  • The fact that the development has already been carried out and the applicant is seeking to regularise the situation. People can carry out development at their own risk before getting planning permission)
  • The developer’s motives, record or reputation

Other Matters – “concerns and issues”

The person making a planning application has to provide enough information for the application to be determined. They do not have to provide every single detail before an application can be approved because certain matters can be resolved by way of conditions included as part of the permission.

Because of this, certain issues may not be considered as ‘objections’ but it is entirely reasonable for you to raise concerns on such issues and to ask to be kept informed before they are approved. These include:

  • The proposed type and colour of the materials to be used
  • The exact nature of any proposed planting or boundary treatment

Planning Matters during COVID19

During the COVID-19 situation, planning matters may be agreed using delegated powers. This was agreed at SPC's extraordinary meeting on 20th March when the 'High Consequence Infectious Disease Policy' was adopted. Soon after, in-person meetings were not allowed due to government guidance. Recent legislation has allowed Parish Councils to meet remotely (SPC uses Zoom), which is how SPC have met since June 2020. Planning Matters will be discussed via Zoom meetings until 'in person' meetings resume.

As always, if you would like to inform SPC of your views, simply add them to the B&NES planning portal. Comments made on the B&NES Council planning portal will be taken into account by councillors when considering SPC's proposed response. SPC recommends adding your comments to the B&NES Council portal as soon as possible. Residents are also welcome to contact the Parish Council prior to any meeting where the item will be discussed to make Councillors aware of their views.

Site Visits (currently suspended)

To protect the health of both Councillors and residents, during the COVID-19 situation it is not possible for site visits to take place. Site visits normally only take place should the Chair of Planning Committee deem this essential and when they are willing to conduct a site visit. Site visits are not a mandatory service offered by a parish council. Generally information on the B&NES Council planning portal (or other planning authority if applicable) is used to inform SPC decisions. Should a site visit take place, a Councillor would not be able to express any opinion on the application – the planning merits of what is proposed will be discussed at an SPC meeting.

Privacy and the Planning Process

Due to its planning procedures B&NES Council usually publishes on its website the names but not addresses or contact details of those submitting comments or objections on planning applications.

Any contact with SPC by a resident will treated in line with GDPR guidance; the resident's name would not be shared with third parties outside SPC without the resident's prior permission. Please note as above that SPC will not post comments on the B&NES Council Planning Portal on a resident's behalf. The only way for a resident to make their comments known to B&NES Council or any other planning authority is to contact the planning authority directly.

Please note that although comments may be made to SPC, there is no certainty that SPC will submit a response to B&NES Council in line with any comments raised in this way. It is also possible that SPC may take an opposite stance to any comments made. As mentioned, contacting SPC is not a substitute for submitting a response to B&NES Council via their planning portal. Saltford residents are encouraged by SPC at all times to formally submit their own responses directly by the given deadline to the decision making authority (B&NES Council) in order to have their concerns formally taken into account. 


The Planning System

Guidance on Planning matters, including the rules on development which does not require planning permission ("permitted development"), can be found on the Government's Planning Portal.  There is also a link on this page to the interactive house guide which is particularly useful for householders contemplating development.

Householders wanting to make a good quality planning application that could be registered without delay can see who is part of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Planning Agents Accreditation Scheme.

Advertisements and illuminations - B&NES planning guidance

Outdoor advertisements and signs - Department for Communities & Local Government guidance

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)Link to B&NES information and guidance
High Hedges  - Link to B&NES information and Government guidance

Planning contraventions

B&NES Council is the local authority responsible for enforcing planning law. If you wish to have a possible planning contravention investigated by B&NES Council, please read the information and complete the required Enforcement Complaint form on this page of B&NES’ website.  The advantages of this are that you will know that your concern is being dealt with and you will know the outcome. If you feel it to be appropriate, you can also contact your B&NES Saltford ward councillors to inform them of your concerns: their contact details are on this page under Saltford.

SPC can raise possible planning contraventions itself when it is agreed that the alleged contravention is significant and will have a village-wide impact. Should a member of the public wish SPC to raise any concerns to the attention of B&NES Council, rather than reporting concerns directly to B&NES Council themselves, please contact the Parish Clerk or a Parish Councillor. If viewed as a significant alleged contravention, a Councillor will then request it be raised at a meeting under  'Planning Matters'. Should Councillors agree at a meeting that it is a matter that requires reporting to B&NES Council, SPC will then raise it as an alleged planning contravention to B&NES Council's Planning Enforcement team. Any updates and outcomes received from B&NES Council to SPC on the matter will be shared under 'Planning Matters' at subsequent SPC meetings and recorded in the minutes. Please note that SPC generally meets every four weeks (bar August).