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Apply for planning permission

Planning permission is required for any work defined as 'development' in Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (external website).  'Development' refers to most building works or changes of use as per the use class order.

You're responsible for getting planning permission. If you do any works before getting planning permission, enforcement action may be taken against you.

The planning process can be hard to understand. Before starting your application please read through all the steps below.

You can also look at our Planning FAQs for answers to commonly asked questions, and the Planning Glossary for definitions of confusing words. If you read the guidance on these webpages, you'll find it much easier to apply for planning permission.

  • Step 1: Understanding your aims
  • Step 2: Refining your proposal
  • Step 3: Preparing your application
  • Step 4: Submitting your application
  • Step 5: Amending your planning application
  • Step 6: Getting your decision
  • Appealing your decision

Before you start

Is planning permission needed?

Not all development needs planning permission. You should check this before you begin to prepare a planning application.

You can find more information using the links below:

Has the property been through planning before?

You can use the Planning Register to check the history of a property. You can also look up the property using Rochford Maps. However, please note that not all planning history is available through these sites.

For a detailed planning history of a property, please use our Planning Research Service.

It's helpful to know the history of a property, because this can affect which works you're able to do.

Step 1: Understanding your aims

Thinking carefully about why the development is wanted can help you explore options when choosing what you want to develop.

Want some early advice or guidance?

We offer pre-application advice to anyone thinking about making a planning application now or in the future. This service allows us to explore with you the aims, issues and opportunities for a given site. We will also explain our planning policies so you can make sure your development is acceptable.

Talking to us before making an application can reduce risks, speed up the planning process and help you create the best possible development.

The Planning Service resources are currently focused on the determination of applications. This means, currently we can only offer a pre-application service for major development schemes.  We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Step 2: Refining your proposal

Once you know that the proposal needs planning permission, you can work out which type of application you need to submit.

What types of application are there?

The type of application you must submit depends on what you want to do. Our guide on planning application types explains which application you need to submit.

Some developments, for example works to a Listed Building, may need more than one application type.

Most applications are one of the three types below.

Householder applications

These applications include development to a house or within the surroundings of a house:

  • extensions
  • other external changes to your home for example to windows, doors, walls or fences
  • works in the garden for example a garden office, swimming pool, or decking
  • car access including footway crossovers and driveways

But does not include:

  • any external changes to flats or maisonettes
  • changing the number of homes, for example changing a house to flats or building a separate house in the garden
  • changing the use of the house to a non-residential use
  • anything outside the garden of the property

Minor applications

  • works to build 1-9 new homes or convert a building to create 1-9 homes
  • some changes of use
  • external works to a flat or maisonette
  • site area less than 0.5 hectares (residential uses)
  • works to a shop, office, or any other non-residential building
  • works where the property floorspace is less than 1,000sqm

Major applications

  • 10 or more new homes or converting a building to create 10 or more homes
  • site area of 0.5 hectares or more (residential uses)
  • works where the property floorspace is more than 1,000sqm / 1 hectare or more (other uses)

Step 3: Preparing submitting your application

Preparing your application

When you've decided what you want to do, you need to prepare a planning application. This involves getting all the information about your development ready. It's really important that you follow our guidance on how to prepare a valid planning application. This will help ensure you get your application right first time and avoid delays.

Step 4: Submitting your application

Submitting your application

When your application is ready, you can choose how you want to submit it to us. We prefer submissions to be made via the Planning Portal.

Submit via the Planning Portal

The Planning Portal is the fastest and easiest way to apply. Your fee payment will be taken on the Planning Portal when you submit your application.

Submit application via Planning Portal

Submit by email

We also accept applications by email. A member of our Planning Support team will contact you to explain how to pay your fee after we receive your email. Application forms can be downloaded from the Planning Portal website

In your email, you must:

  • confirm what type of application you're submitting
  • attach your completed application form 
  • attach all other forms, drawings and supporting documents
  • tell us how you want to pay; if you pay online, let us know in your email 

Submit your application to

Pay your application fee online. Please select Miscellaneous Payments > Planning > Planning Application Fees.

Submit by post

You can post your application to: Planning, Rochford Council Offices, 3-15 South Street, Rochford, Essex, SS4 1BW

You must:

  • confirm the type of application you're submitting
  • submit a completed application form 
  • send all other forms, drawings and supporting documents
  • tell us how you want to pay

What we do when we receive your application

We will let you know:

  • when we've checked your application
  • when we have marked it valid

We cannot register your application until the correct fee has been paid. See planning application fees for details on the different application fees and how to pay.

Once we've marked your application as valid, a Planning Officer will be responsible for looking at your case. They will determine whether, on balance, your proposal is acceptable in the context of the Government's national policy (external website) and the local development framework. They will contact you if they need more information.

See our planning FAQs for commonly asked questions about everything that happens after you've submitted a planning application.

What we will do if there are issues with your application

If we find a mistake in your application or if there is any information missing, we will not make your case valid. We will tell you what you need to do to make it valid. You will have 28 days to respond to us and fix any mistakes or send us missing information. If we do not hear from you within 35 days, we will close the application and you will need to apply again.

Step 5: Amending your planning application

Making an amendment to a live planning application

We use the word amend to mean a change to your application. If you wish to amend your application after submission and before determination, you can make a request to do so by contacting your case officer and explaining what you want to change. Please note:

  • you cannot amend an application if you have already received your decision notice
  • we do not have to accept your request for change
  • requesting an amendment might delay how quickly you get your decision from us.

Sometimes your case officer will suggest an amendment to your development. We will usually do this to make the development acceptable so that we can grant planning permission, but please note this does not mean approval is guaranteed.

Making an amendment after determination

If you want to amend your application after you have already received our decision, you can do so by:

  • making a non-material amendment application for very small changes
  • for material amendments, making an application to vary the conditions relating to the consented development

If you're not sure which type of application you should submit, please contact your case officer.

What is a material amendment?

The government does not provide a definition of ‘material’ amendments. This means that each local authority has to decide their own definition. We will decide if an amendment is 'material' by looking at the whole granted development, and looking at any other changes we have already allowed to it.

We assess each application on a case by case basis and there is no set list of the types of changes that we think are 'material'. However, when deciding if changes are 'material', we will usually think about the following questions:

  • would the change increase the size of the development?
  • would the change involve a change of use to any part of the property?
  • would the change harm neighbour amenity?
  • would the change be against any of our planning policies?

If we think that the proposed changes would not be 'material', you might need to re-apply for planning permission.

Step 6: Getting your decision

We will let you know when we have made a decision about your planning application. This will usually be in the form of a decision notice which we will send to you by email. The decision notice will say whether we've granted or refused your application.

These are the four main decisions that that we can make about your application:

You might see a code on your decision notice (for example, PER, REF, PERLBC). We explain what these common codes mean on the planning application types and fees page and you can find less common codes in the Planning Glossary.

See the planning FAQs page for commonly asked questions about what happens after you get your decision.

Planning conditions

Your decision may be restricted by planning conditions. These are rules that you need to follow as part of your planning permission. Conditions will be listed in your decision notice. 

You can find out more about conditions on these websites: 

You can find a list of application types that can have conditions on our planning application types and fees page.  

How do I remove, amend, or approve details of a planning condition?

If you want to remove, change or get approval for a planning condition, you should submit:

  • an application for approval of details reserved by condition, or
  • an application for removal or variation of a condition

You can do this by:

Section 106 agreements and planning obligations

For very large and complex applications, planning obligations help mitigate the impact of unacceptable development to make it acceptable in planning terms. This is a legal agreement between the developer and the council, (also known as a Section 106 legal agreement), where the developer agrees to planning obligations, which are similar to planning conditions. To be acceptable, the agreement must meet the tests set out in the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (external website) and as policy tests in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Just like planning conditions, you can apply to modify or discharge a section 106 legal agreement through an application to the Council. Forms and guidance are included below:

  • [application to modify or discharge a section 106 planning obligation]
  • [notice of an application to modify or discharge a section 106 planning obligation]
  • [applicants guide to submitting an application to modify or discharge a planning obligation]

Appealing your decision

You can appeal our decision if your planning application is refused. You can also appeal against any conditions on your planning permission. 

Appeals are managed by the Planning Inspectorate. Alternatively, you can re-apply with a different scheme for consideration (standard application fees and processes apply).

You should refer to the Government webpage for the latest information on appealing your decision(s).

Appeal a planning decision

When can I appeal?

You can make an appeal:

  • up to 12 weeks after being told our decision for your householder application
  • up to 6 months after being told our decision for other application types

We will send a letter to anyone who commented on the original application so that they know about the appeal.

Can anyone make an appeal?

Only the applicant can appeal a planning decision. If you did not make the application but you're unhappy with the decision, see the complaints and compliments guidance to find out how to comment.

If you follow the Council’s complaints procedure and you're still unhappy with the decision, you can call the Local Government Ombudsman on 0845 602 1983.

For any further questions about the planning application process please email