Planning - Frequently asked questions

Do I need Planning Permission?

You may not always need planning permission to extend or carry out works to your property. The common project guides and interactive house on the Planning Portal will help you decide if a formal planning application is required.

For more details on permitted development rules, visit: Planning Portal - Do you need permission.

Please be aware that in some cases there may be restrictions on your property which would mean you require planning consent and that information provided is for guidance only and you should be satisfied that works don't need formal planning permission before commencing any works.

Link to online maps detailing constraints/restrictions: Online maps.

Note. You may need to obtain your own independent professional planning advice.

Your proposals may also require building regulations approval: Building regulations.

Can you confirm I do not require Planning Permission?

If you require a formal decision as to whether you need planning permission for your proposal, that you consider your proposal is permitted development or that an existing use is lawful, you must apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.

Please visit the Planning Portal for further information and where you can apply online: Planning Portal - Consent types: Lawful Development Certificate (LDC).

Note. Confirmation will not be provided without the submission of an LDC with supporting information upon which to base that opinion. A formal decision could also prove essential in the event of the sale of your property.

Would I get Planning Permission?

We are committed to providing a positive and proactive Planning Service which meets government performance targets for the processing of applications. So we recognise the value of pre-application discussions for the efficient handling of subsequent applications and therefore encourage those considering new development to engage in this process.

If you wish to obtain our opinion on your proposal please visit our pre-application advice web page for further information and where you can download the form/scale of charges: Pre-application advice.

Note. We will not comment on what is suitable development on a plot of land, i.e. up for sale via auction, without submission of a formal pre-application enquiry.

How do I submit my planning application?

Planning applications should be submitted online via: Planning Portal - Planning applications.

The associated Planning application fee will be calculated by the Planning Portal on submission - see the fee calculator: Planning Portal - Fee calculator.

Note. The Planning fee must be made directly to the Planning Portal before the application will be released to the Local Planning Authority.

For further information on what documents to submit please see our validation checklists and criteria: Planning application validation criteria and checklists.

Publication and access to information:

To comply with its statutory obligations, the Council must make public certain details relating to planning applications in the form of a Public Planning Register. The Council must publish a list of planning applications with the associated documents on its website and this includes the name and address of the applicant and agent.

The Council will publish online a copy of your completed application form and the supporting documents and drawings. To protect personal data from unnecessary disclosure, the Council will remove phone numbers, email addresses and signatures from the information that may be viewed via the website. Any sensitive personal data such as information about your health will also be removed before publication.

Link to the Development Management privacy notice: Development Management privacy notice.

Who can comment on my application?


Letters will be sent to neighbouring properties. These consultations direct neighbours to the Planning pages on the Council website where they can view the plans and comment on the application within a statutory 21 days. These comments will be taken into consideration by the Planning Officer and will be summarised in the final report with the recommendation for either approval or refusal. Any comments which are made will be publicly available and published online. The neighbouring properties notified in relation to an application will vary according to the situation of the site and its surroundings. However, it should be noted that you can comment on any application irrespective of whether a formal notification has been received or not.

See: View and comment on planning applications and appeals.

Finding an application

When using our planning applications web site, if you know the reference number, you will just need to input it and press the search button. (You can also search using a keyword, postcode, or single line of address, then select the planning application required from those shown in the search results).

Select the 'related documents' tab, and the select 'view associated documents' - this will bring up the list of documents and to view each document select the application number link in the left hand column. Note: the list of documents will appear in alphabetical order but to put them in descending date order please click above the date column.

Internal and external consultees:

We will consult any other relevant Council departments that may be able to provide the Planning Officer with professional advice, for example Highways or Drainage. It may also be necessary to consult with external authorities, for example Environment Agency or United Utilities. Ward councillors are also informed and given opportunity to comment. The consultations undertaken for any application will depend upon the nature and scale of the development proposed.

How do I comment on a current planning application?

Your comments must be made online via the public access web page: View and comment on planning applications and appeals.

Registering on the online system will enable you to track the application process and you will be kept informed should changes occur to an application.

Making your comments online will publish your comments to the website and please note the following:

  • In compliance with the Planning regulations, all comments made on planning applications will form part of the application documentation and must be made available for public inspection. Please do not include any personal or sensitive data that you do not wish to be made public, as your comments will be published online and made available to the applicant or any interested party by request
  • Due to the legal requirement to make comments available for public inspection, we cannot provide anonymity
  • Your comments should only include material planning considerations (see Planning Portal - What are material considerations?) and we will remove comments the Council considers to be inappropriate, personal, offensive or abusive
  • If the application is subject to appeal, comments will be forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate

Please see the Development Management privacy notice with details of how we use personal information and data in relation to comply with our legal obligation to carry out a public task/function and provide a planning service.

If you do not have access to online facilities please write to:

Business Growth & Infrastucture, Development Management Team, 3 Knowsley Place, Duke Street, Bury, BL9 0EJ.

How will my planning application be considered?

The Planning case officer will review your application and make a site visit to get an understanding of the potential impact your development may have on neighbouring properties and the surrounding area. They will consider the consultation responses and carry out a further assessment of the proposals in respect of the relevant local and National Planning Policy Framework.

See Supplementary planning advice.

See - National Planning Policy Framework.

In some cases it may be necessary to seek amendment to enable the development to be acceptable. If the changes are considered minor, we may make a decision without any further publicity or in some cases it may be necessary to re-consult.

At the end of the assessment period, the case officer will write their report setting out their recommendation. The application will either be approved, with or without conditions, or refused.

Will my application be considered at Planning Control Committee?

Not necessarily, although the Planning Control Committee is a group of elected Councillors who are trained in making planning decisions, the majority of applications will be signed off by the Head of Development Management on behalf of the Director of BGI.

This is because Development Management has the ability to make decisions where they fall under a set of agreed criteria - this is known as the Scheme of Delegation authorised by the Council's Constitution. Only those applications which fall outside of this criteria are considered by the Planning Control Committee.

See Planning control committee and delegated decisions for further information about the PCC, the Scheme of Delegation and having your say.

How long does it take to determine a planning application?

There are nationally set target dates that define when the Council should make a decision on an application - typically the target dates are a statutory 8 weeks for minor planning applications and 13 weeks for major planning applications. So this will depend on the nature of the application and whether or not there are any issues to be addressed and the Planning Control Committee meeting dates. Therefore in some cases extensions of time may be needed and agreed.

What can I do if my application is refused?

You have two options: you can resubmit your application seeking to address the reasons for refusal and a revised application is free provided the application is of the same scale and nature and is made by the same applicant within 12 months of the date of refusal.

Note. If an application is approved, then planning permission is granted and there is no third party right of appeal.

Alternatively, you can submit an appeal against the Council's decision to refuse to the Planning Inspectorate.

See Planning applications refusals and appeals.

Do I need Planning Permission to work from home?

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The key test is whether the overall character of the dwelling will change as a result of the business. If the answer to any of the following questions is 'yes', then permission will likely be needed : is it still mainly a home or has it become business premises?

  • Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
  • Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling or deliveries?
  • Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • Will your business disturb your neighbours including at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

If you are in any doubt you should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for the proposed activity, to confirm it is not a change of use and the lawful use is still a dwelling.

Note the general guidance for childminding at home:

  1. If there are less than 3 children being cared for (including the minders own) Planning Permission won't be needed.
  2. Between 3 and 6 it is unlikely that Planning Permission would be needed but it would be advised that any new childminder should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate to confirm the situation.
  3. Over 6 children, Planning Permission is likely to be required.

See Planning Portal - Working from home.

Do I need Planning Permission for Change of Use?

Planning permission is not needed when:

  • The existing and the proposed uses fall within the same Use Class or
  • If the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) states that a change of class is permitted to another specified class.

See Planning Portal - Change of use.

Note. If you require approval that a proposed change of use is permitted or our written confirmation of an existing use you must submit a Lawful Development Certificate, see Planning Portal - Consent types: Lawful Development Certificate (LDC).

Do I need Planning Permission for a new vehicular access, driveway or hardstanding?

Provided you do not live on or want access from a classified road (such as a main thoroughfare or highway), you will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

See Planning Portal - Paving your front garden.

If you require our written confirmation as to whether you need planning permission for your new vehicular access/driveway you must apply for a Lawful Development Certificate: Planning Portal - Consent types: Lawful Development Certificate (LDC).

Note. Whilst you may not need planning permission, if you are making a new access into the garden across the footpath you will need to obtain permission from the Highways Team to drop the kerb or to carry out works to the public highway including the footpath.

See Dropped kerbs.

Do I need Planning permission to convert a garage to a habitable room?

Planning permission is not usually required, providing the work is internal and does not involve enlarging the building. If you want to convert a garage into a separate house (regardless of who will occupy it), then planning permission will be required no matter what work is involved. Sometimes permitted development rights have been removed from some properties with regard to garage conversions and therefore you should check before proceeding, particularly if you live on a new housing development, in a listed building or in a conservation area.

See Planning Portal - Garage conversion.

Note. Garage conversions require building regulations approval so Building Control will need to be informed.

See Building regulations.

Do I need Planning Permission to put up an advert or sign?

Please the guide for outdoor advertisements and signs.

See Planning Portal - Adverts and signs.

How do I report an alleged breach of Planning Control?

If you think works are being carried out that are in breach of Planning Control, please let us know by contacting the Planning Enforcement team - link below.

The identity of a complainant is kept confidential.

We will investigate your complaint and decide if a breach of Planning Control has occurred and you will be informed of the results of the investigation.

Planning enforcement.

Is my property affected by Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings, Green Belt etc.?

Our interactive map available online will be able to confirm if the property you are enquiring about is covered by any of the above constraints, definitions and restrictions: Online maps.

Further guidance is available if you establish your property is covered by any of these constraints.

Trees and TPO's:

Tree protection.

Planning Portal - Trees and hedges.

Conservation Areas:

Living in a conservation area.

Listed buildings:

Listed buildings.

Historic England - Search the National Heritage List.

I'm buying or selling a property, can you assist?

A lot of information you may be interested in when considering purchasing a property is already available to you using both our database search facility and interactive map. Planning application documentation and decisions from 2007 onwards are also accessible.

See Online maps.

See View and comment on planning applications and appeals.

Planning application documentation and decisions 1999 - 2007 can be made available but you will need to provide planning reference numbers. You will need to research these on our interactive map and database search prior to requesting documentation.

Requests for us to carry out historic searches pre 1999 will attract an hourly fee.

Whilst you may want to carry out your own research, your solicitor will normally instruct a Local Authority Search to be carried out via Land Charges which will provide much of the information you as the purchaser is interested in.

See Land searches

Note. S106 agreements can be purchased from the Land Charges department.

Who owns a piece of land?

Private land ownership is dealt with by the Land Registry - - HM Land Registry.

The Council does not have jurisdiction to determine disputes about land.

Ownership but any permission granted would not override the property rights of the neighbour should they subsequently prove to be the land owner.

If your enquiry is relating to Council owned land or property, please contact the Estates department - Council owned land and property.

Can you confirm the boundaries of my property?

The Council does not hold this information. Definitive boundaries are shown on the deeds to your property - if you do not have them you will need to obtain a copy from either the Land Registry or your mortgage provider.

See - HM Land Registry.