Frequently asked questions - Planning

Find answers to common queries or contact details for our teams here.

On this page we answer some of more common questions about Planning.

If you have looked through the planning web pages and the FAQs below and these still do not answer your query, you can contact us by phone or by email using the details lower down this page.

We really cannot answer this question over the phone, by email or in person as we require specific information in the form of a pre-application enquiry and time to assess it. However, if you follow the steps on our do I need planning permission page you may be able to find the answer yourself and if you are still unsure it will tell you what to do next.

Please view the Trees and Hedges section of our website to find out what is meant by a protected tree, if your tree is protected and how to apply for any proposed works.

The name of the Case Officer for a current application can be found on our Public Access system (further information tab) by searching using the planning application reference (on your acknowledgement letter). It takes roughly 5 days to allocate a Case Officer to an application so please allow this time before checking.

The Case Officer will contact you in advance of a site visit if they need you to be present.


If you need to speak to a Planning Officer then you can request a call back and the Officer will aim to respond within 3 working days. It is helpful if you can provide a description of your enquiry and your application reference number so that the Officer can provide you with the best response. 

planning@northumberland.gov.uk

0345 600 6400
Have they submitted an application?

If you share a boundary with your neighbour or immediately overlook the site you would usually be notified by letter if an application had been submitted and we would invite you to comment by a certain date (usually within 21 days). However you can also see if an application has been submitted to us by searching for the address on our planning applications register known as Public Access. If you find an application you can view the plans and see how the proposal may affect you. You can also make your comments if the consultation expiry date has not ended yet. The work must be carried out in accordance with the submitted plans and the conditions stated on the decision notice e.g. materials used, window positions and building size and location, if they are not the works may be classed as in breach of planning.

Do they need permission?

They may not have submitted an application because some minor works can be carried out without requiring planning permission subject to certain conditions and limits. This is known as permitted development rights (PD). The Planning Portal website contains easy to read guides on common projects like extensions, fences and walls, windows and doors, changes of use, adverts etc. These explain the conditions and limitations so you can read these to judge if someone else should have applied for permission for their works. View the Planning Portal common projects website.

However there may also be local planning restrictions in place in the area or on the property itself. If a property is affected by any of these the normal permitted development rights may be restricted or withdrawn. This means an application may be needed for work which normally does not need one. Check for any local area/individual property planning restrictions.
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How can I report a suspected breach of planning?


If the work is carried out under permitted development rights set out by Government it cannot be subject to enforcement action even in instances where development is considered to cause harm. 

However if a development is carried out without the required permission it is deemed to be unlawful. If you have read the above advice and you cannot find an application and you think your neighbour should have obtained permission or has built something not in accordance with the plans you can report a breach (in confidence). View more information about planning enforcement and how to report a breach.

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) puts uses of land and buildings into various categories known as 'Use Classes' which are detailed on the Planning Portal use classes page

The current use class of a building / land can usually be determined from the last application that was approved for that site. Search for the site and view the planning application history on our Public Access system. If you are unsure about the address or are looking for land try using the Map Search instead.

Some changes of use do not require planning permission, these are listed on the Planning Portal changes of use not requiring planning permission page. However some proposals allowed under permitted development are subject to prior-approval from the planning authority.

If you are still unsure if you need permission or what the current use class is and want Planning Services to advise then you will need to submit a Pre-application enquiry so we can look into the history of the site.

If you think you do need permission you will need to pay the correct fee and make an application. There are specific prior approval forms if the change does come under prior approval. If not you will need to use the full planning consent form or the outline planning consent form. You may also need listed building consent in addition to these.

The telephone number and email contacts for our teams are provided below

If you are contacting us about a specific site or application please provide the address/planning reference number so we can find it and deal with your query more efficiently. Questions about specific applications should be directed to the Case Officer for that application. Their name can be found on our Public Access system using the reference number.

It would assist us if you could use the email addresses below to contact us rather than by post or phone. For the protection of residents and staff we do not currently have any front of house/reception facilities and the duty planner 'drop in' service is suspended. However the duty planner telephone service will be available from 10am - 2pm via the Customer Services number 0345 600 6400. You may be asked to leave a message if the duty planner is on another call (or if you call outside of these times) so please include any application reference and your email address with your message so we can provide an informed response. 
We aim to provide you with the best service that we can. If, for any reason, you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the planning process, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will try our best to help you.

We also welcome any general comments, feedback, suggestions or compliments. Any feedback that we receive is passed on to our staff members and is greatly appreciated.
 
To give feedback, provide your comments or suggestions, compliment our staff or process or make a formal complaint about any aspect of the service.

To use the council’s online forms for compliments and complaints click here.