An application for planning permission is considered on its individual merits and both national and local planning policies and regulations must be applied. The planning officer’s role is to ensure that development is supported but only so long as it does not cause harm to neighbouring properties. The decision is based on the premise that if there are no reasons to refuse an application then it should be granted. Planning decisions are made having regard to policies set both at both a Government level and a local level. It is our duty to ensure that while development is supported, changes are also regulated so that attractive areas are not spoilt and new buildings are not erected in unsuitable places.

Once the application has been considered with regard to planning law, planning policies (both national and local) and the outcome of the consultation process then the decision can be made and issued.

The Planning System

Information about the planning system is available via:

Maps - Proposals and Inset Maps

You can find out where listed buildings, conservation areas and protected trees are in Torbay by visiting the Find Planning Constraints page.

These are some of the matters that are considered by the planning officer when assessing the acceptability of a scheme:

  • What impact would the development have on the local area?
  • Highway matters, traffic access visibility and parking
  • Does the development provide local facilities or deplete local facilities in any way?
  • Does the development provide or deplete housing stock?
  • Does the development create or potentially remove an eyesore?
  • Is the application contrary to or following the Local Plan or other Government Policies?
  • Would the development cause a loss of light to any neighbouring properties?
  • Does the development improve or deplete tourist facilities?
  • Noise - created once the development is complete
  • Is the development in keeping with local area, taking into account issues of conservation?
  • Would the development constitute over development?
  • Would the development cause a loss of privacy to other properties? Would it be overlooking other properties?
  • Would the development provide/retain jobs or deplete jobs?
  • Would the development provide residential amenity?
  • Would the development set a desirable precedent for future development in the area?
  • What effect might the development have on trees and wildlife?
  • Are there any issues concerning drainage including surface water run off?

The planning officer must also consider any constraints that apply to the site concerned. Listed below are the main constraints that may apply to a site and which the planning officer may need to consider when determining an application in Torbay:

Flood Risk

Flood risk is a material planning consideration and relates to both river and coastal flooding. It is a very important element in the planning process particularly in the light of current concerns about climate change and the need for sustainable development. The aim of national policy guidance is to ensure flood risk is taken into account at all stages of the planning process, to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding, and to direct development away from areas of highest risk. 

Contaminated Land

Contamination of land can occur as a result of previous industrial use and may represent harm to human health and the environment. Although there are powers to deal with historical contamination under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is anticipated that many contaminated sites will continue to be dealt with under the planning system. Contamination is a material planning consideration which means that a Local Planning Authority (LPA) must consider contamination issues when they prepare development plans or consider individual applications for planning permission.

Land contamination is usually dealt with through the planning system which will ensure where necessary that remediation takes place. It is the responsibility of the developer to carry out the remediation and satisfy the local authority that the remediation has been carried out as agreed.

A key difference between planning powers and those of Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is that Part IIA deals with the contamination risk from a site in its current use, but the planning system has regard to the proposed use. Therefore the remediation requirements under the planning system can be wider than under Part IIA. Where remediation is carried out under the planning system, the site will be left in such a condition that it would no longer meet the definition of contaminated land under Part IIA:

Tree Preservation Orders

The impact of development proposals on the natural environment is an important material planning consideration. Trees can have an important role to play in our landscape that should be retained for future generations wherever possible.

Sometimes there are large and important trees on or adjoining development sites that could be affected by the development. Where a tree is protected, or is considered to have important amenity value we will consult our tree team on the planning application.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO’s) were introduced to enable us to protect important trees. 

Conservation Areas

A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 sets out the special planning controls that apply to conservation areas.

There are 24 conservation areas in the Torbay.

In addition to normal planning requirements certain additional controls apply in conservation areas. The permitted development rights are more limited and tree work applications are required for works to trees over a certain size. Conservation Area Consent is required for certain demolition works even if planning permission would not normally be necessary.

Listed Buildings

Listed buildings are buildings of special historic or architectural interest which have been recorded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Buildings on the list are graded I, II* and II, Grade I being the most important. For Listed Buildings an additional and separate planning consent is needed. Applications affecting Grades I and II* listed buildings and those involving demolition are required to be referred to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport.

Internal and external works to listed buildings also require listed building consent. Listed Building Consent is required for repairs alterations and /or extensions which materially alter the appearance, structure or historic interest of a listed building. This is in addition to any requirement for planning permission for a proposal.

There are some 840 listed buildings in Torbay. The buildings include High Street shops and houses, country houses and cottages, a range of agricultural buildings, walls and even telephone boxes and milestones.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)  Opens in a new window , is the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. It works directly with architects, planners, designers, developers and clients, offering them guidance on projects.