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Frequently Asked Planning Questions (FAQ's)

This page provides answers to some frequently asked questions regarding planning.

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Please select a question below.

Understanding whether permission is required

Applying for permission

Knowing about a planning application or decision

Viewing or commenting on an application


Q. How would I know about a planning application?

As part of the process in considering planning applications, we tell neighbours about new applications by letter, site notice or newspaper advertisement. Further details are available on How a Planning Application is Processed.

You can also sign up for an automatic 'alert it' emails, which will inform you of planning applications within certain limitations, such as a distance of up to 500 metres of where you live or within a Ward. This 'alert-it' process does not cover all applications (for example, it excludes householder permitted development notifications) but is quicker than receiving a letter. You can choose to receive notifications on behalf of someone else in the borough, allowing them to stay informed for relatives or those without access to the internet.

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Q. Where can I find out progress and decisions on an application?

The online planning database has information on progress on applications made to us (all the way back to 1985). It will include details of the decision after it has been made along with information about any appeal against the decision.

However, some planning applications - including those for minerals and waste development and applications related to county council services - are made to Hertfordshire County Council and you can check with them details, progress and decisions on these applications.

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Q. How do I find out if there was a planning application on a site before 1985?

The interactive map shows the reference number of most planning applications since 1974. Details of these applications can be seen at  in Welwyn Garden City. Please contact the Planning Support Team  if you are making a special visit to make sure we have the information you need.

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Q. Where do I go for non-council advice about any aspect of the planning process?

There are several website/organisations which you may wish to use to find help:

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Q. Can I find out what planning restrictions apply to operating a business from my home?

You can find out more about the restrictions on Advice on altering your home page.

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Q. Can you tell me who owns land, a boundary or fence?

Unfortunately, we do not have this information.

You may wish to try checking your deeds or tenancy agreement. If these are not clear or don't cover the land you need information on, there are several places you can go to for further help:

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Q. What can I do if my neighbour wants to make changes to my property?

We can only look at the planning issues rather than your rights as a homeowner. However, you may want to check your rights with your solicitor and/or under the Party Wall Act.

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Q. How do I find out if my building ideas may get planning permission?

We offer Pre-application Advice service to potential applicants, in which we will assign an officer to review all the policies that your proposals will be judged against, such as whether your house is in a conservation area or is a listed building.

You can of course do this yourself, through the website. You may also wish to refer to the Interactive Map, which has information on the policies relating to your area, and want to check what other people have applied for in the area through the Planning application database.

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Q. Do you recommend builders?

No, we are not able to make recommendations for building companies.

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Q. Have I got permitted development rights?

Information about Permitted Development Rights . If there is any doubt, we advise you to call us and speak to a planning officer to discuss before going ahead.

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Q. How much does it cost to apply for planning permission?

The cost for a householder application is £172. The cost for minor and major applications will vary depending on the nature and size of a development.

 pdf icon Full list of application forms and fees. [371KB] (Please note this document includes all council fees and charges)

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Q. What do I need to do to get planning permission?

You will need to complete an application form either yourself or through an agent such as a planning consultant or architect. This needs to be submitted with the plans detailing your proposals, relevant documents and the correct fee. The validation checklist for the type of application detail all the information required. Further information is available within Apply for planning permission.

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Q. Who can I get to draw my plans?

Plans need to be clear and detailed and drawn to metric scale. You can draw your own plans but most people will employ a planning agent or architect to do this for them. We are not able to make recommendations in relation to agent/architect services.

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Q. How do I get an Ordnance Survey map for my application?

Every planning application needs a site location plan and block plan showing the location and boundaries of the site you are planning to work on. You can use the Planning Portal's 'Buy a Plan' service to ensure that you meet our requirements, whether you are a planning professional or first-time applicant.

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Q. Who gets notified of my application?

A number of people will be notified of, or consulted on your planning application. This will include neighbours of the site, elected members (your Ward Councillor), Town and Parish Councils and statutory consultees such as the Environment Agency and Hertfordshire Highways. More information onHow a Planning Application is Processed.

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Q. How long does it take to get a decision for planning permission?

A decision is usually made no later than eight weeks from the date of validation of the application. This timescale is different for major planning applications where the decision should be made within 13 weeks.

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Q. Who makes decisions on planning applications?

Ninety one per cent of applications are dealt with under what is known as 'delegated powers'. This means that the case officer for the application makes a recommendation to the Head of Planning who has the authority to make the decision on the application. All other decisions are made at the Development Management Committee which is made up of elected members. The committee is open to all members of the public to attend and speak.

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Q. How can you find out what a decision was on an application?

You can view decisions made on planning applications on the website, at our offices in Welwyn Garden City or by phoning the Development Control section. If you would like a copy of a decision notice this can be obtained from the council. You will have to pay a fee and will depend on the number of pages to the decision.

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Q. What is the Estate Management Scheme and does it affect me?

Welwyn Garden City is one of only two garden cities in the country. In recognition of the garden city environment, and to protect the amenities of residents, the High Court imposed a Scheme of Management in 1973 covering most of the town.

We are keen to ensure that the town's environment continues to be of the highest quality. Because of this consent is required for:

  • extensions and alterations
  • alterations to or replacement of external windows and doors
  • garden structures, such as walls and fences
  • hard surfaces
  • work to trees and hedgerows.

This consent is separate from the need to apply for Planning Permission and Building Regulation approval, which you may also need.

Please see our Estate Management Scheme section for further details.

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Q. Is planning permission needed to rent my property out?

In Hatfield, planning permission is required if you are going to use your property as a House in Multiple Occupation.

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Q. When is the next Development Consultation Forum?

Development Consultation Forums are held as required to give local councillors and neighbours a chance to see developers proposals early in the planning application process. They are rare, approximately one or two are held each year. When a forum is planned it is advertised in the local press and by site notice.

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Q. Does the council provide any help so my works reduce energy and water use?

We cannot help but we can offer youguidance on how new works could be built. In addition, the Building Control Officers can give you some pre-application advice on conserving fuel, power and water.

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