Comment on planning applications

Personal data on public comments

Personal data is, signature, phone numbers, email addresses, name and postal address.

Comments received from 1 April 2019

When you comment your personal data will not be displayed online as these are automatically excluded.

Please do not include any of your personal data within the text of your comment itself, as these are not automatically excluded and will show online.

Your name and address is required by planning legislation and the Council in order to accept and register your comments and keep you informed, we therefore cannot accept anonymous comments.

View our policies on personal data before 1 April 2019 at the bottom of the page.

What to include in your comments

Planning can only take in to account matters which are referred to as material planning considerations and planning policies.

Any comments you submit to us will be publicly available.

Officers will not respond directly to comments but will summarise them in the Officer’s report which is a full explanation of how the decision has been made.

Warning on offensive or discriminatory comments

The Council will not take into account comments that may reasonably be considered to be of an offensive or discriminatory nature. The Council cannot publish material which would conflict or be perceived by others to conflict with the Council's duty to promote equality and challenge all forms of discrimination, to have regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between persons of different characteristics, and to eliminate unlawful discrimination.

Whilst a person may not intend comments to be offensive or discriminatory, the Council has a legal duty to consider the content of all material it receives and must ensure that it stays within the law.

Please do not send any communications which fall into this category as the Council will remove and reject them at the earliest opportunity. Please be aware that you may be committing an offence by sending such material and may be prosecuted.

If you report comments you feel are offensive or discriminatory we will consult our legal team and where necessary remove from the website or the relevant section.

How to submit and view comments and application documents

You can submit your comment online, by email to or in writing to Planning Services, Bedford Borough Council, 4th Floor, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford, MK42 9AP.

Please put at the beginning of any correspondence if you wish to support object or comment, quote the application number, your name and full postal address.

  • Go to the public access planning website. If you have not commented before you will need to register first
  • Input your application number and click on Search
  • Click on the tab labelled Comments then Make a Comment. Click on Public Comments to view what has been received
  • Once you have submitted your comments, the system will send you an acknowledgement containing further details, please read.
    • For lengthy comments we strongly recommend you type your comment in Word (or similar) first and then copy and paste into the comments box when you are ready to submit. This is because you may be timed out of the system if you take a long time to write your response.
  • For any other application correspondence, comments from statutory consultees / Parish and all the plans / documents submitted a part of the application, please click on the tab labelled Documents then click on the View Associated Documents link that will then appear in the box below.
  • You will see:
    • A Consultation list with the documents, which details who has been sent a letter
    • Any application correspondence, comments and all the plans / documents submitted a part of the application. The plans and documents submitted by the applicant are given V numbers; the Contents list that is provided with all the documents, explains what the labels of V01, V02 etc are, so you can identify the relevant plan or document you wish to view, so please open this list first. 

Other options:

  • Use the weekly or monthly list to view all the applications received and determined, you can choose various options to narrow down the results.
  • Tracking the application online. Use this option if you want to follow the progress of an application. Go into the application online by typing in your number, Click on the ‘Track’ button near the top of the page on the right hand side. You will need to log in. The application details are now saved in your tracked applications section. You will receive automated emails when the application status is changed.
  • You cannot comment on an application that has been determined

How is the application decided

Applications are determined by Planning Officers, unless they are delegated to the planning committee. Please refer to the Scheme of Delegation (PDF), for more details on items that are taken to committee. See more details about planning Committee and the Right to Speak scheme.

Planning will also write to Statutory consultees such as Highways, Tree Officer, Environment Agency, Environmental Health etc where required, for their professional opinion of the development. Any responses received are published online. Parish Councils are treated as statutory consultees. The Officer then makes a recommendation based on planning policies and material planning considerations and will assess the comments on this basis.

If you comment you will be sent a letter:

  • if the application is going to be determined by the Planning Committee
  • after the decision has been made by the Officer or Committee

How to view the decision

The after decision letter gives details of how to view the officers report and decision notice for a full explanation of how the decision was made or you can find online

There is also a register of all the decisions from 1948 to date.

If you are not happy with the decision please refer to the Officer's report for full details of how the decision was made. You have no right of appeal, but if you think we have not followed due process you can make a corporate complaint.

If a development is not being built in accordance with the approved plans or conditions, which can all be found online you can report this on the planning breach form.

How Planning notifies neighbours

The Planning legislation confirms that a site notice is sufficient for neighbour notification so we don’t always send letters out. We must also put up a site notice and advertise the application in the local paper if the property falls within a Conservation area or the development is major or the property is listed etc. You therefore do not have to receive a letter to be able to comment on an application. If we send out letters we send them to ‘the occupier’ to a postal address, as we are informing properties not individuals.

In addition, planning would not be aware if someone owns a property but does not live there, so our letters state that if you are a tenant or lessee you must notify the owner / landlord about the letter you have received. The properties must also be occupied as the Post Office will return letters as undelivered for any unoccupied buildings. Your consultation period is 28 days from the date the letter is printed, which is 7 days more than the statutory consultation period (21 days) to allow for second class post. There are some application types such as ‘Permissions in principal’ where the legislation specifies different time periods for consultation. Find out more on GOV.UK's pages on consultation and pre-decision matters.

We only notify those properties who: abut, or in some circumstances are opposite the site location. Exceptions to this are, some types of applications which do not require consultation; for example Trees in Conservation Areas, Discharge of Conditions, Proposed Lawful Development Certificates.

We will also notify people who wrote in about a previous application within the last 5 years where the red line boundary is the same as on the new application.

We only notify properties not land. In rural locations site notices will usually be put up for this reason. Planning would not be aware of who owns empty fields / land which are adjacent or opposite to the red line boundary and planning applications cannot be delayed whilst we write to Land Registry to query who owns land/properties, which is why there is no requirement to do so. There are more details about planning in our Statement of Community Involvement.

Note also that, Prior Notification submissions are not planning applications so the consultation requirements are different. Guide 13 explains more about prior notifications.

Planning appeals

If an appeal is received on an application where ‘neighbours’ were consulted, we will send out letters on behalf of the Planning Inspectorate (although not all appeals require a letter to be sent, even if we sent out letters on the planning application that is subject to an appeal).

Any comments you wish to make on the appeal must be sent to the Planning Inspectorate not Bedford Borough Council. For more details and information on appeals please refer to our planning appeals page.

More details about personal data on appeals (please scroll down the page to the appeals section)

Personal data on comments before 1 April 2019

Comments received between 14 November 2016 and 31 March 2019

If you commented by letter: only your email address, phone number, and signature will have been removed from the scanned version of your comments your name and address will still show.

If you commented by email or online: your name and address will only still show if they were included within the text of your actual comments.

Comments received before 14 November 2016

These are available to view in full at the Customer Services Centre only, unless you commented on our website, as these are visible online with your personal data removed unless you included your name and address within the text of your actual comments.

You can request personal data is removed from older comments as detailed above as follows: Please email requesting that your personal data is removed. You must specify the application number(s) this relates to.

Comments received before 1995

These are available in full on fiche at the Customer Services Centre only and cannot be amended or removed from the fiche.

For details of personal data for planning please go to our planning and personal data page.