What factors decide a planning application?

Material planning considerations

  1. It must be noted that when considering planning applications (and related matters) only relevant planning considerations can be taken into account. Councillors and their officers must adhere to this important principle which is set out in legislation and Central Government guidance.
  2. Material planning considerations include:
    • Statutory provisions contained in planning acts and statutory regulations and planning case law
    • Central Government planning policy and advice as contained in circulars and the
      National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
    • Supplementary planning guidance/documents eg. Affordable Housing SPD
    • Master plans, development briefs
    • Site specific issues such as availability of infrastructure, density, car parking
    • Environmental; effects such as effect on light, noise overlooking, effect on
      street scene
    • The need to preserve or enhance the special character or appearance of
      designated conservation areas and protect listed buildings
    • Previous planning decisions, including appeal decisions
    • Desire to retain and promote certain uses e.g. stables in Newmarket.
    • The following planning local plan documents covering West Suffolk Council:
      o Joint development management policies document 2015 o In relation to the Forest Heath area local plan:
      i. The Forest Heath Core Strategy 2010 as amended by the High Court Order 2011
      ii. Core strategy single issue review of policy CS7 2019
      iii. Site allocations local plan 2019
      o In relation to the St Edmundsbury area local plan:
      i. St Edmundsbury core strategy 2010
      ii. Vision 2031 as adopted 2014 in relation to:
    • Bury St Edmunds
    • Haverhill
    • Rural
      Note: The adopted Local Plans for the former St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath areas (and all related policy documents, including guidance and SPDs) will continue to apply to those parts of West Suffolk Council area until a new Local Plan for West Suffolk is adopted.
  1. The following are not material planning considerations and such matters must not be taken into account when determining planning applications and related matters:
    • Moral and religious issues
    • Competition (unless in relation to adverse effects on a town centre as a whole)
    • Breach of private covenants or other private property or access rights
    • Devaluation of property
    • Protection of a private view
    • Council interests such as land ownership or contractual issues
    • Identity or motives of an applicant or occupier
  2. Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires that an application for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the Development Plan (see section 3 above) unless material planning considerations indicate otherwise.
  3. A key role of the planning system is to enable the provision of homes, buildings and jobs in a way that is consistent with the principles of sustainable development. It needs to be positive in promoting competition while being protective towards the environment and amenity. The policies that underpin the planning system both nationally and locally seek to balance these aims.


  1. Sadly there seems to be nothing that can be done to stop the desecration of our beautiful villages. Too many houses in too small a space with no consideration for existing villagers, school and doctor capacities or increased traffic movements on rural roads. The current house building boom will be known in future years as “The Great Blight”.


    • I agree. People live in villages for a reason. I will be doing my best to protect them.


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