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Customer Charter for Planning Environment Service

This Charter is intended to provide you with a clear understanding of what level of service you may expect from the Planning Environment section.

The Environment service provides advice on the natural and built environment and specifically on:

We also make Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and make recommendations on applications for tree works.

Help and advice

We aim to help raise the quality of new development. We also want as many planning applications to succeed as possible and to prevent problems that may result in enforcement action. We, therefore, offer an informal advice service on ecological, landscape, tree and conservation issues.

We will try to answer your questions by phone or in person as quickly as possible. Where an immediate answer cannot be given, we will give clear reasons and respond in writing to 90% of enquiries within 15 working days.

Any informal advice which we have given will be taken into account when any formal planning application is considered. However, you must remember that it cannot be a guarantee of the Council's final decision and that only issues relating to trees, ecology, landscape, design and built conservation issues will be addressed.

We undertake to deal with formal tree and hedgerow applications as quickly as possible and will deal with 95% of all TPO applications within 8 weeks.

We will investigate all threats to trees, hedgerows, protected species and their habitats and listed buildings within 3 working days. We will not disclose the name of any complainant. Where anonymous complaints are received, our investigations, of necessity, may be limited.

Involving you in our projects and policies

When we initiate projects we will seek to involve members of local interest groups and members of the public. We will write to relevant parties in advance and also issue press releases to raise awareness.

We produce development and design briefs, outlining how a site should be developed. We will allow 3 weeks for interest groups and members of the public to submit representations in response to these. We will also allow at least 3 weeks for consultation when producing Conservation Area appraisals.

We prepare Local Planning Guidance notes, with advice on specific environmental issues. We will allow 6 weeks for interest groups and members of the public to submit representations in response to these.

Access to information

Tree Preservation Orders are public documents and can be inspected at the Planning Office during normal working hours free of charge. A charge of 10 will be made for copies of orders.

Details of statutory and non-statutory nature conservation sites may be inspected free of charge at the Planning Department. Descriptions of all Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas in the County Borough may also be inspected, free of charge, during normal working hours.

We aim to provide a friendly and approachable service and will do our best to provide as much information as we can.