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Making a Planning Application

These notes have been prepared to help you apply for planning permission but if you need additional help please contact the Development Control staff within the Planning Service. We aim to provide a high standard of service but to do so we need correct information from you. View the downloadable forms including planning advice and information.

Is planning permission necessary?

Under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, Aberdeenshire Council has a duty to control development. The term development has a legal definition that includes most activities involving building and engineering works and most changes of use of buildings and land, and planning permission is required for most forms of development. There are, however, some types of development which do not require planning permission and you can get advice on these matters from the development control staff within the Council's Planning Service. A questionnaire is available which can be sent to you, to help work out whether planning permission is required.

How do I submit an application?

Many people employ a professional agent with the knowledge and skills to send in a correct planning application and detailed drawings, and who will also negotiate on any issues raised by the planning authority. However, a planning application must include:

  • Correctly and fully completed forms dated and signed
  • Correctly and fully completed certificates dated and signed
  • 4 copies of all plans
  • The correct planning fee (and any fee for the advertising of the application should this be necessary)
  • Confirmation that you or your agent have notified all the neighbours

There are different types of application and we have provided easy to complete planning application forms along with detailed guidance to help you. These forms can be obtained from your local planning office.

What happens to my application?

When we receive your application we will check it and providing you have supplied all the information necessary we will register it within 3 working days and send you an acknowledgement letter and a receipt for your planning fee. You will also be told which planning officer will deal with your application and you may then contact that officer at any time to check on the progress of your application.

We have 2 months to deal with a planning application although some applications are more difficult than others and we may have to write to you asking for more time. If you do not agree to extend the time period and we have not come to a decision on your application, you may appeal to the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters Unit.

The development control service is busy dealing with hundreds of planning applications at any given time and we consult with a variety of other council services and organisations. The most common consultations are with:

  • Aberdeenshire Council services such as Environmental Health, Transportation & Roads, Education, and Housing
  • North of Scotland Water Authority
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Historic Scotland
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Civic Trust
  • Scottish Executive

We do ask these organisations to reply to us within 14 days although sometimes they take longer. Sometimes they raise questions which, in turn, mean that we have to get in touch with the applicant to ask for additional information.

Objections might be received to an application as a result of neighbour notification, and the advertisement of particular types of application in the press and site notices. Anyone can comment on a planning application and we must take everyone's views into account.

Sometimes the planning officer will ask you to make changes to your application to make it more acceptable, or because of the advice from the organisations who have been consulted. It is the aim of the planning officer to help you improve your application so that it might be approved. If you are asked to consider changes, any delay in your response may result in the application being recommended for refusal due to the tight timescales within which the planning authority have to work.

How is a decision taken?

The planning officer dealing with your application will visit the site (it is usually unnecessary for you to be present). Once the officer has got all the information about your application, a report will be prepared and will take into account various matters such as:

  • Government law and guidance on planning matters
  • The policies of the Structure Plan and Local Plan
  • The views of the organisations consulted, including those concerning technical matters such as drainage and water supply
  • Letters of objection or support
  • The details of the application in relation to the character of the area, and possible effects on neighbouring properties

Once a report has been written and a recommendation made, a decision will be taken either by the Area Committee or if an application is straightforward and complies with Council policy it may be decided by the planning officers. In fact, about 75% of all planning applications are decided by planning officers.

If a planning application does not comply with Council policies, involves matters of public interest or has attracted more than 5 objections, it is reported to your local Area Committee for a decision. Within Aberdeenshire there are 6 Area Committees which are made up of elected councillors. The meetings are normally held every 3 weeks and the agendas for these meetings (which include the planning reports and any letters of objections or support) are available for public inspection at least 3 days prior to the meeting. In some specific circumstances objectors to a planning application can appear at the meeting to speak to the committee and the applicant will then be given the same opportunity. Planning applications of great importance also need to be reported to the Infrastructure Services Committee after they have been considered by the local Area Committee - but these are few in number. Once the committee have taken a decision on your application you will be informed of the outcome within 4 working days of the committee meeting. If the application was refused, the decision notice states the reasons why - if it was approved, the decision notice will indicate what you are required to do.

What if I am unhappy with the decision?

If your application has been refused you may be able to change your proposal in order to meet the criticisms of the council. We can advise you on this matter and discuss how you might be able to achieve this. Some changed applications will not require the submission of a further planning fee. Alternatively, you are able to appeal to the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters Unit within 6 months of the date of the decision. There is a separate guidance leaflet on planning appeals. You can also contact the main offices.