Planning Services Complaints Procedure
It is Bath and North East Somerset Council’s aim to ensure that everyone who uses the Planning application system is satisfied with the service they receive from us.
Bath and North East Somerset Council receives a significant number of planning applications every year and a good percentage of these are processed within government targets.
However, planning application decisions can be contentious and often raise strong feelings, especially if there is opposition to the application it is inevitable that there will be at least one party who will be disappointed with the outcome of the decision. This often leads to a complaint, either about the decision itself or the way in which the application was handled.
However, the complaints procedure is in place to question whether or not the service we provided was to the expected standard, NOT about the actual decisions.
Planning applications are a statutory process and as a result professional judgements are used by qualified Planning Officers when decisions are made. If you feel the decision that has been made is incorrect, or believe a step in the process has been missed that could have affected the decision, the next course of action would be to instigate the Appeals Procedure. However, only the applicant or a person served with an enforcement notice can make an appeal. There is no right of appeal for third parties or interested organisations. However, anyone who has made written representations on an application will be notified if the application becomes the subject of an appeal.
Before initiating the Council’s Formal Corporate Complaints Procedure, it is recommended that contact is made with the Case Officer assigned to the planning application to discuss the situation. The Case Officer will be best placed to answer your query knowing the background of the case, and would have been involved in all of the lead up work prior to the decision being reached. This discussion may mean a resolution can be reached prior to any formal investigation being instigated. If you are unable to reach the case officer on their direct dial telephone number, please contact one of our Planning Information Officers on 01225 394041, who maybe able to provide you with the information you need or alternatively pass on a message.
We treat complaints as a valuable source of information on our service standards and the quality of our Planning Officers work. Complaints, whatever their source, will be dealt with thoroughly, politely and promptly.
Making a complaint
If you want to complain about an aspect of our standard of service that you have received please see the Council’s Formal Corporate Complaints Procedure.
Frequently asked questions
“Can the decision be reviewed if a mistake has happened?” – Although we can rectify minor slips, we cannot reconsider the evidence the Planning Officer took into account or the reasoning in the decision or change the decision reached. This can only be done following a successful appeal.
“So what is the point of complaining?” – We are keen to learn from our mistakes and try to make sure they do not happen again. Complaints are therefore one way of helping us improve our customer service.
“Why did an appeal succeed when local residents were all against it?” – Local views are important but they are likely to be more persuasive if based on planning reasons, rather than a basic like or dislike of the proposal. Planning Officers have to make up their own minds on all of the evidence whether these views justify refusing planning permission.
“What do the terms ‘Allowed’ and ‘Dismissed’ mean on the decision?” – ‘Allowed’ means that Planning Permission has been granted, ‘Dismissed’ means that it has not.
“Why did my application fail when similar application nearby succeeded?” – Although two cases may be similar, there will always be some aspect of a proposal which is unique. Each case must be decided on its own particular merits.
“My application failed, is there anything else I can do to get my permission?” – Perhaps you could change some aspect of your proposal to increase its acceptability. For example, if the Officer thought your extension would look out of place, could it be re-designed to be more in keeping with its surroundings? If so, you can submit a revised application to the council. Talking to the planning officer about this might help you explore your options. As a Council we do offer a Pre-application advisory service which provides customers with a greater degree of certainty about the chance of a positive recommendation being made.
“What can I do if someone is ignoring a planning condition?” – It is the council’s responsibility to ensure conditions are complied with. You could contact the council as we have discretionary powers to take action if a condition is being ignored. If you have a query about whether work carried out required or obtained permission, please contact Planning on 01225 394041, option 5.