Planning Customer Charter

Our corporate commitment

When you contact us, we will:

  • aim to answer your enquiry at the first point of contact 
  • ensure that we use plain language and have properly trained staff to answer your enquiry
  • be honest, available, accessible, approachable and polite
  • make sure that the information we provide is accurate and up to date
  • treat all customers equally and with respect
  • arrange for translation on request if English is not your first language 
  • arrange for large type, translation into braille or audio files on request
  • make information accessible to all

If you telephone us, you will always be able to speak to a member of the planning team.

If you send a letter or email to us that does not relate to a live application, our corporate aim is to reply by letter within 3 working days or by email within 2 working days unless advised otherwise.

Duty service

We will provide a telephone duty service for general advice relating to planning, trees, conservation and listed buildings, which is available during office working hours. 

We will also provide general advice face-to-face to visitors to reception during office working hours.

If however, further investigation is needed, we aim to respond to the request within 2 working days. 

Pre-application advice

We will encourage you to obtain pre-application advice for site-specific queries and to improve the quality of planning applications. This reduces delays in validating and assessing your application. 

We will provide advice on planning policies you need to be aware of when submitting an application.

We will also advise you of the requirements other consultees may have and any potential constraints or issues, to help reach a more favourable outcome.

Within 5 working days of receipt, we will write to you to confirm that your pre-application advice request has been logged, and you will be provided with the name of the planning officer that is dealing with it.

If you have requested a written response, the planning officer will provide this within 20 working days from the date the request was logged.

If you have requested a meeting, the planning officer will contact you within 5 working days from the date the request was logged to arrange a suitable time.

Submitting and validating a planning application

You can submit an application on the Planning Portal via our website.

All planning applications need to be validated when they are submitted. This is to ensure they contain all the information required by the national and local validation requirements.

We will advise you if additional documents need to be provided and where these can be obtained. You will then have up to 28 days to submit them.

Within 5 working days of an application being received and it successfully meeting the validation requirements, we will:

  • write to inform you that your application is valid 
  • make your application available on our public register of applications on our website 
  • advise any occupier of a property directly next to an application site how to comment on an application, what matters can be taken into consideration, and provide a deadline for comments to be received
  • send the application to relevant experts for comments
  • confirm receipt of comments, and while we will not usually provide an individual response, we will consider these when assessing the application

Notification and consultation

We will carry out publicity and consultation when validating planning applications in accordance with The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 and our Statement of Community Involvement to make the local community aware and place a notice in the Cambridge Evening News when required by the regulations.

We will publish consultation responses and public comments on our website. Contact details and signatures will be removed from public comments. Further information, including how to comment on a planning application, can be found in our planning guidance leaflets.

Assessment and communication

Once your application has progressed past the validation stage and the consultation period starts, the case officer will begin assessing your application. The case officer will look to make a decision in the shortest time possible in order to ensure that you receive your decision within an acceptable time frame. A negotiation protocol has been created which sets out when and how an application will be negotiated on.

We will work positively, proactively and collaboratively with all stakeholders.

We will make decisions on planning applications in accordance with our Local Plan 2015 (as amended 2023), Neighbourhood Plans, the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and other relevant legislation.

Officers will determine your application under delegated powers, unless our Constitution requires that the application should be determined by the Planning Committee, or it is called in by a local councillor. The Planning Manager may also decide it is in the public interest for an application to go to Planning Committee. 

Where applications are to be determined by Planning Committee, we will send a formal notification to applicants, agents and interested parties before the agenda is published.

We may request an extension of time if a decision cannot be made within the required timescale and explain the reason why. This is to provide certainty to stakeholders regarding the timescale for determination. This will usually be done to allow for all consultees to comment and for minor changes to be made to proposals in accordance with the Negotiation Protocol.


Within 2 working days of the outcome, we will:

  • write to anyone who has sent in comments
  • make the officer report and decision notice available on our website
  • explain the reasons for the decision and clearly set out any planning conditions or reasons for refusal in the officer report and decision notice


If a planning application is refused, we will provide you with information on the appeal process at the time of decision.

We will keep consultees and anyone else who commented on the planning application informed at all stages of the appeal process.  


You can report a possible breach in planning control on our website. 

When a possible breach in planning control is reported to us, we will open an enforcement case. We will advise you of the case reference number and the name of the officer the case has been assigned to within 5 working days.

We will undertake an initial investigation within 10 working days and provide you with an update within 15 working days. 

We will investigate all reports in accordance with our Local Enforcement Plan


Before making a formal complaint, we would always encourage you to try to resolve any grievances quickly and informally by contacting the officer with whom you have been dealing or their line manager directly. Information on the team structure is on our website

We will listen to and address your concerns, however, should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you can make a formal complaint.