The Planning Service promise to customers

Whatever the service, whichever way they contact us, we promise our customers to:

  • Deal with enquiries in a friendly, helpful and courteous manner;
  • Treat everyone equally and without discrimination;
  • Provide accurate and timely information and advice;
  • Treat any information given to us or held by us sensitively and discreetly, respecting any confidentiality;
  • Meet the targets set out in our service standards;
  • Treat any comments and complaints about our services seriously and handle them in a positive way.

The services we provide

The Planning section encompasses the following service areas:

  • Development Management: advice, processing, publicity and consultation relating to planning applications and appeals, and enforcement against breaches of planning control.
  • Planning Policy: preparation of the Council's Local Development Framework and provision of advice on conservation and design issues and other planning policy matters.  Trees, landscape and ecology.

Responding to Customers

Corporate standards for responding to enquiries via letter, email, telephone or personal visit are set out in the Council's Customer Service Charter. The planning section also has specific standards for its services, which are set out below.  These should be responded to in seven working days.

Development Management

Providing Advice

We will:

  • Ensure that professional advice and information on planning applications and related matters is available during office hours;
  • Welcome and provide opportunities to discuss development proposals with applicants before they submit a planning application;  through pre-application advice where there is a charge.
  • Suggest changes where proposals are felt to be unacceptable and give advice on how to progress the application;
  • Provide Guidance Notes on how to make a planning application.

Processing Applications

We will:

  • Register valid planning applications within three working days;
  • Contact applicants within five working days if an application is incomplete and/or invalid, explaining what is missing or how to correct any mistakes;
  • Issue decision notices within two working days of the decision being made;
  • Notify by email the final decision to those who made comments by email on an application.

Publicity and Consultation

We will:

  • Publicise applications promptly and consult on relevant applications with adjoining neighbours on applications which affect them, giving them 21 days in which to make representations. The Council will send an acknowledgement of the receipt of representations but will not be able to reply to any specific points or questions. This is due to the large number of planning applications and representations received.
  • Publicise a weekly list of planning applications received and planning decisions made on the Council's website;
  • Provide an opportunity for members of the public to speak at meetings of the Planning Committee regarding applications which are to be considered by the Committee.

Enforcement

We will:

  • Ensure that professional advice and information on enforcement policy and procedures is available during office hours.
  • Acknowledge enforcement related enquiries within three working days either by letter or email;
  • Make an initial investigation of all written enquiries and visit the site in all instances, within  ten working days;
  • Provide an interim response to written enquiries within five working days of the site visit;
  • Notify the enquirer of any decision to take formal enforcement action within three working days of the decision.

Planning Policy

The Local Development Framework

We will:

  • Maintain an up to date Local Development Framework (LDF) for the Vale of White Horse District;
  • Publicise LDF policies and proposals widely, including on the Council's website, giving opportunities for people to comment in accordance with the relevant planning regulations amd the Council's Statement of Community Involvement;
  • Make copies of the LDF and other related documents available at reasonable prices and on the website;
  • Ensure officers are available during office hours to provide advice and information on matters relating to the LDF;
  • Carefully consider and make public each representation in response to consultation on LDF documents.

Conservation and Design

  • Officers will be available by appointment during office hours to provide specialist conservation and historic building design advice; through pre-application advice where there is a charge.
  • We will ensure independent design advice is available from the Architects Panel and the Council's consultant architect for sensitive and major developments.

Help Us to Help You!

Customers can help the Council to deliver the best possible service by:

  • Being aware of any relevant service standards (for example, turnaround times on applications);
  • Keeping us informed of any relevant changes in your circumstances;
  • Responding to letters and any requests for further information or documentation in the timescales requested;
  • Treating our staff with respect and courtesy.

Customer Behaviour

Our staff are committed to providing the best possible service for customers, and we believe that in return our staff have a right to be treated courteously and with respect.

The Council will not tolerate instances of verbal, written or physical harassment or abuse of its staff. The Council will record such incidents and may report incidents to the police. We retain the right, where we consider customer actions to be unacceptable, to change, restrict or refuse access to our services.

Comments, Complaints and Suggestions

The Council recognises that communication is a two-way process and operates a procedure that encourages comments, complaints and suggestions to enable service improvement. Whichever method you use to contact us with a complaint, it will be dealt with in the same way.

  • A full written reply will be sent within 15 working days or, if your complaint is complicated, you will be sent a reply or progress report within 28 days.
  • If you are unhappy about our reply to your complaint, you can write to the Chief Executive at the Council using the Freepost address.
  • If, after following the Council's procedure you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can refer it to the Local Government Ombudsman. We can supply you with the contact details on request.

Last reviewed: 08 - 04 - 2014

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