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.

It is important to review these documents so you can also see the types of matters we cannot consider, such as civil matters like the Party Wall Act or other private issues between neighbours eg land/boundary disputes, damage to property, private rights of access, covenants, ancient and other rights to light or matters controlled by other legislation. This guide Residential Extensions, New dwellings and Small Infill Developments will provide some ideas of what we consider when determining these types of applications.

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 comment contents (offensive or discriminatory)

Please do not send any communications that may reasonably be considered to be of an offensive, discriminatory or otherwise objectionable nature. Any comments which fall into this category will not be taken into account and may be removed or rejected by the Council.

Please do not submit 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 
  • to eliminate unlawful discrimination

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, discriminatory or otherwise objectionable, we will consult our legal team and take a view as to whether or not they should be removed. Please detail which application and which comments or which section of the comments you are referring to.

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 the application is decided

Applications are determined by Planning Officers, unless they are delegated to the Planning Committee. For each application, the Officer will write a full explanation of how the decision has been made called the Officers report which can be viewed online. For decisions that do not need to go to Committee, each report is checked by a Senior Officer and the Service Manager before the decisions are issued. For Committee items these reports are checked and considered within the agenda for the meeting, which is published online. The Committee can agree with or vary the recommendation of the Planning Officer and they can overturn a recommendation. They can also defer a decision for various reasons for example: the Councillors wish to do a site visit or the application will need to go back to Committee.   

All applications are determined in accordance with the Scheme of Delegation (PDF) which also details why an application goes to committee. You can also view the planning agendas and minutes, more details about planning Committee and the Right to Speak scheme

To process the application, Planning will write, where relevant, to Statutory consultees such as Highways, Tree Officer, Environment Agency, Environmental Health etc for their professional opinion of the development and where required, write to neighbours as detailed in the section below ‘how planning notifies neighbours’. Any responses received are published online (Parish Councils are treated as statutory consultees).

The Officer then makes a recommendation based on planning policies, planning history for the site, planning legislation and material planning considerations which the comments will be assessed on. Each application is assessed on its own merits, therefore comments cannot be transferred between applications even if the development is similar or the same.

The application has various important dates as part of its determination process, such as the expiry of the consultation period, which is triggered by different elements of consultation where relevant, such as Site notices, An Advert, Neighbour notification, Statutory consultation etc. You can find these online in the 'Important Dates' tab once you have searched for the application online.

The time periods allotted for these processes are detailed within the planning legislation. The application statutory determination deadline date can only be extended in agreement with the Applicant / Agent. This can be for various reasons, for example: Planning need to consider Amendments or the application is going to Committee, or the application requires a legal S106 agreement (the decision notice cannot be issued until the S106 agreement has been signed by the relevant parties). There are certain circumstances when Officers will seek to negotiate amendments as part of the application process, see Negotiating Amendments (PDF) for more details. If an application has an agreed extension of time this is also shown in the 'Important Dates' tab. If an application goes over its statutory deadline without an agreed extension of time, this is reflected in the statistics we must produce for central Government and can lead to special measures being introduced to remove the responsibility of determining planning applications from the local authority.

Not all planning decisions need to follow the processes as explained above and there is more detail in the Planning Town and County Act  and the General Development Procedure Order.

Prior notification submissions for permitted development proposals are not planning applications and as a result, there are only certain things that can be considered as part of the determination process which is explained in more detail in the General Development Procedure Order above and the General Permitted Development Order where each different type has its own section within the Order and separate criteria. The consultation process can also be different for these types of submissions. Prior Notifications can be submitted for: some Changes of Use, householder extensions and Telecommunications submissions as examples, but there are more types. You can find out more on the Government website about permitted development submissions and we have some guidance in Guide 13. Prior notification applications cannot go to Committee as explained in the Scheme of Delegation.

Most prior notifications have to be determined within the allotted time frames or they will be given ‘deemed consent’ meaning they have permission by default, unless the Applicant / Agent agree to an extension of time.

When we receive prior notification submissions, many of the types will contain PN in the application reference we have given the case. Below are a few examples to assist you to recognise when the applications are prior notifications:

  • A change of use from agricultural building to residential is a change of use prior notification under class Q. The code for this is CPNQ which will be at the end of the application number - for example 01/00001/CPNQ.
  • A householder prior notification for single storey rear extension will be an HPN householder prior notification - for example 01/00001/HPN.
  • A telecommunications prior notification can be a TELLN for those types that require no consultation (as the Planning Authority has no determining powers) or TELPN for a prior notification that is considering siting and appearance only. For example: 01/00001/TELLN and 01/00001/TELPN.

If you comment you will be sent a letter detailing the required information:

  • 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 and what happens next

Please read the Decision notice and Officer's report online for full details of the decision and how this was made. In some cases you will have been written to advising you of the decision and how to view the documents.

If an application went to Committee the Officer's report is also included with the Decision unless the recommendation was ‘overturned’. For example: the recommendation put forward was for an approval but Committee decided to refuse the application. For the minutes from Committee explaining why the application was ‘overturned’ and to view the agenda, please go to the Planning Committee page.

If you are not happy with a decision:

Please read the Officer's report for full details of how the decision was made. Officers will not respond directly to queries about decisions. Once a decision has been issued it cannot be revoked unless by order of a judicial review by a court of law.  

To find out more about the process undertaken in making a decision, please see the section above labelled ‘How is the application decided’.

You have no right of appeal, but if you think we have not followed due process you can make a corporate complaint.

The Decision notice may contain conditions that require approval. These will show online once they are determined and can be found using the original planning reference as detailed on page 3 of how to guide 1. You can find planning history for sites online at There is also a register of all the decisions from 1948 to date

Applicants may vary or alter schemes or submit new applications for us to consider at their own discretion. Where relevant, you would be consulted as detailed in the next section ‘How planning notifies neighbours'.

If a development is not being built in accordance with the approved plans or conditions as detailed online please refer to the planning breach page.

How Planning notifies neighbours

Where the Planning legislation requires neighbour notification, it states a site notice is sufficient, so we will not always send out letters. If letters are sent out (where relevant), it is stipulated this is only required to those properties who abut the site. Some submissions to planning do not require neighbour notification. This is explained in more detail as you read through this section, including links to advisory information and legislation.  

You do not have to receive a letter to be able to comment on an application. Please note:

If the application is determined we cannot accept comments, instead, please refer to the section ‘How to view the decision and what happens next’, above.

We cannot always consider comments sent in if the application is one that does not require neighbour notification.

If letters have been sent, they are addressed to ‘the occupier’ at a postal address, as we are informing properties not individuals. The properties must be occupied as the Post Office will return letters as undelivered for any unoccupied buildings.

We only notify those properties who: abut, or in some circumstances are opposite the site location (as explained above we are not required to notify those opposite). Exceptions to this are, some types of applications which do not require neighbour consultation; for example: trees in conservation areas, discharge of conditions, proposed lawful development certificates and some prior notifications.

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.

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.

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.

Planning will 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. and this is required within the legislation. A copy of the site notice is usually published online with all the documents for the application.   

Consultation periods and information: Each method of consultation that we have explained above ie letters to neighbours, site notice or advert, are a consultation in their own right and will show their own date to respond by, taking into account the date produced as the starting point and the statutory time period allowed for each.   

Where we have sent out letters the initial consultation period is usually 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. If you have received a letter you should respond by the date shown, but if there is a site notice / advert and it is showing a later date we will accept comments until the later date. You can view the dates in our online system for Viewing and commenting on applications, on the Important Dates screen.

Please note: There are some application types such as ‘Permissions in principal’ where the legislation specifies different time periods for consultation or does not require consultation.

Find out more on GOV.UK's pages on consultation and pre-decision matters. There are more details about planning in our Statement of Community Involvement.

Prior notification submissions for permitted development proposals, for example: some changes of use or householder extensions or some telecommunication equipment are not planning applications. There is guidance provided about Prior notifications and a link to the government website in the section ‘How the application is decided’ above to explain more. Some prior notifications have different consultation requirements, Guide 13 contains more information.

Planning appeals

Only an applicant (the person who submitted a planning application) can appeal a planning decision, planning conditions imposed and non-determination within the statutory deadline of an application. People who have been served an Enforcement notice can also appeal. Appeals are determined by the Planning Inspectorate not Bedford Borough Council.  

There are four ways an appeal can be determined: Fast Track for householder and some minor development, written representations, hearings and public inquiries. The type of appeal is determined by the development and the Inspectorate. 

When an appellant first submits an appeal this is registered as ‘LODGED’ whilst the Inspectorate checks the appeal and makea sure it is valid and can be processed. 

The Inspectorate will then notify us and send us a letter to confirm the ‘START DATE’ of the appeal and how the appeal is to be determined and it becomes an ‘IN PROGRESS’ appeal. 

At the ‘START DATE’, If the type of appeal requires ‘neighbour’ consultation, we will send out letters on behalf of the Planning Inspectorate advising of the process and if comments can be made and how. Fast Track appeals do not allow a further submission of comments for the appeal but the letters we send out will explain which process the appeal is being determined under and whether or not you can comment and who to contact etc. Please note comments on appeals cannot be submitted to Bedford Borough Council. If you commented on the planning application your comments will be sent to the Inspectorate for their consideration. 

For more details and information on appeals please refer to our planning appeals page. including how to find appeals online at

For 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.