Step by step guide to making a planning application

Planning application determination timeframes

Minor applications have a statutory determination period of 8 weeks, while major applications and applications accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment have determination periods of 13 and 16 weeks respectively. However, the Government recognises that it is not always possible to issue decisions within time for various reasons, including the response times of statutory consultees and committee dates. Amendments by applicants can also lead to re-consultation and longer timeframes to cover that process. As a result, the Government sets all councils a target to determine at least 70% of minor applications within the 8 week period and at least 60% of major applications within 13 to 16 weeks. Bedford Borough Council is performing above each of these targets but, inevitably, some applications will take longer than the determination period.

If you already have an allocated planning officer, they will liaise directly with your agent (except in exceptional circumstances) as required to progress your application. To find out more about the planning process and what to do please see:

Step 1: apply for planning advice and assistance with planning process

How to obtain advice prior to submission of an application:

You can apply for written planning advice to discuss the scheme. This can potentially resolve any issues before submitting your application. For the fees, charges and how the service operates, please refer to all the details in Step 4. This page also contains some self-service links and guidance in Step 2 and Step 3.

If you wish to obtain confirmation that your proposal does not need planning permission (permitted development enquiries), please apply for a lawful development certificate by following the steps below.

Who can assist you submit the application:

You may want to appoint a professional (agent) to act on your behalf for planning applications and advice if, for example: you aren't familiar with the planning process, your project is complex or controversial, your project involves particular design or conservation expertise

An agent can be anyone that you wish to appoint, for example a builder, architect, planning consultant, loft company or someone familiar with the planning process.

If you choose to use an agent for your application then: all correspondence and enquiries will go through them, they will receive the decision notice, we will not discuss a case with an applicant where there is an agent.

We will assume your agent has advised you about the risks that may arise if you do not follow our advice. Your agent should also be able to advise you about the foreseeable issues associated with your proposal. If you have any problems with your application, please contact your agent.

Planning cannot submit applications for you. Please refer to further guidance on the submission process in addition to the steps below.

Please see the page for guidance on how Planning determine applications.  

Step 2: check local constraints and site history

Carry out planning searches to help you prepare for your planning application. 

Search planning applications

Refer to the How to Guides for:

  • assistance with search
  • how to find planning constraints using map search
  • assistance with planning matters for applicants and agents (guide 6)

Step 3: check local policies

Please check the policies relevant to your proposed development on the planning policy, other planning policy documents and policies maps pages.

Planning policy and its purpose

Other planning policy documents 

Step 4: submit the application with associated plans or documents

Please ensure you check all the details on the planning forms page before submission. You will find information about what you need to provide and how the application is dealt with when first received. You can also find out about bio diversity net gain and how it may affect your application.

Details about the fees are below and in Step 5.

You can submit your application in one of the following ways:


Use the Planning Portal website for the majority of application types. You can check which applications can be submitted.

The Applicant / Agent guide (PDF) explains how the planning portal operates fee collection. For any enquiries please contact them directly. You must pay the relevant fee quoted at submission to the planning portal. The application will not be released to local planning authorities until this happens. If applications already received need more funds or a payment, you can pay us directly via the methods in Step 5.

Go to prior notification forms for change of use and householder prior notifications not yet in the planning portal.

In paper

Print a planning application form.

Minerals and waste applications

Please refer to this page Minerals and waste policies and other information and this page to apply and find the forms.

CIL information

Download the full Community Infrastructure Levy guidance

Step 5: make the correct payment

To access Bedford Borough Council's full list of planning fees, see the planning application fee list (PDF).

You can also read the legislation about the changes made on the 6 December 2023 to fees regulations and new increased fees.

Pay online when you submit the application via the planning portal.

For phone, or mailing a cheque, please quote one of the following

  • portal number
  • application number
  • application site address

Telephone 01234 718068

Cheque make payable to 'Bedford Borough Council' and send to: Planning, 4th Floor, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford MK42 9AP.

Step 6: what happens next

Most applications can take between 8 and 13 weeks to determine, dependant on the type, although this is not always the case. The relevant time scales for each application are online once the application is validated.

The Planning Scheme of Delegation (PDF) explains:

  • when an application will go to Committee
  • when it will be agreed by the Planning Team as a Delegated Decision

The Planning Committee is held every month. This is usually on a Monday, except for Bank Holidays, at 6.30pm. This is at Borough Hall unless advised otherwise.

View the upcoming planning committee agenda, or review past agendas and minutes. You can also read The Right To Speak Scheme (PDF).

A significant number of applications may require some form of amendment to the proposal prior to a recommendation of approval being able to be made. View the planning department’s approved procedure for negotiating amendments (PDF).