Planning Process Overview

Credit: The information on this page has been kindly put together by our local GX Town Council. While the information is correct at the time of writing (Feb 2018) planning policies and procedures will change, so please use due diligence when preparing any planning documentation.
Below you will find a summary of the local planning process, run by South Bucks District Council (SBDC). This information is designed to help you understand the process better and to direct you where to look for further help.
A more detailed description of the process can be found here , but you should refer to the SBDC Planning webpages for the latest official information.
The planning process is complicated and tends to favour development. Whether applying for planning permission or objecting to it, it may be wise to employ an experience planning consultant to assist in drawing together a strong case.
Where to seek more detailed advice and information
SBDC Planning webpages (
These pages include planning guidance as well as a search engine to locate planning applications. Use the map search to search for applications in your local area, and the time filter on the right to focus on recent applications. If you are applying for permission, browsing other planning applications can be useful to understand the policies that are relevant for building in the area.
For correspondence including objections, queries, requests for Committee representations either contact , or create a log-in to show additional correspondence options on all application pages. Make sure that the SBDC planning application reference is included on all correspondence.
Central Government Planning Portal (
Here you will find national planning guidance including useful tools such as an interactive planning permission tool that lets you point at parts of a house to understand whether permissions are required or not.  (
Planning Policy
All planning applications are judged against a set of various planning policies, old and new. The important thing here is that parts of some older ('saved') policies are still considered extant, i.e. 'alive and in use' while other parts have been superseded by more recent policies. Navigating around and through the policies correctly is the key to a good application, or objection. 
Here is a list of the most relevant local policies for developments to the Bulstrode Camp area  (incl saved policies):
SBDC Residential Development Design Guide (2008)
Local Plan (1999). The whole of Bulstrode Camp estate lies in a designated Residential Areas of Exception Character (RAEC) as detailed in this Local Plan. The most relevant policies protecting the RAEC are ‘saved’ policies from this planning document, namely:
H10 Residential Areas of Exceptional Character - which then refers to EP3, EP5, H9 to preserve character:
EP3 The Use, Design and Layout of Development
EP5 Sunlight and Daylight
H9 Residential Layout and Design
SBDC Core Strategy (2011). This strengthens the policies in the Local Plan (1999) protecting the RAEC by continuing their adoption.
Both of the above policies can be located at:
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2012) - The current Conservative Government have tried to ‘simplify’ the planning process with the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework.
Currently, the NPPF, Core Strategy (2011) and adopted policies from the Local Plan (1999) are broadly consistent, despite developers regularly trying to prove otherwise for their own purposes. The SBDC Core Strategy needs to be updated very soon to remain consistent with the changing housing targets in the NPPF. If a new Local Plan is not accepted by the Planning Inspectorate then Planning Authorities and Planning Inspectors will  considerably reduce the ‘weight’ attributed to the ‘saved’ policies in the Local Plan that protects Bulstrode Camp RAEC.
GXTC, and SBDC District Councillors are particularly keen to ensure that an updated Local Plan, currently being worked on in conjunction with Chiltern District Council, contains strong protection for RAECs, Conservation Areas, and Green Belt. GXTC is working with residents of GX (including Bulstrode Camp) to draft and have ‘made’ a Neighbourhood Plan which should also afford continued and further strengthened protection of the RAEC.
The Planning Process
The block diagram below summarises the planning process. It is an overview only, but provides the key steps of the planning process. Planning applications, if required for permission, are initially made to SBDC who administer the approval process. (Note some developments can be done under Permitted Development rights – see the Central Government Planning Portal).

South Bucks District Council Planning Process

  1. The SBDC planning process is targeted to complete in 8 weeks, including any referral to Planning Committee for approval.
  2. Planning Officers will often (but not always) have been consulted by applicants (pre-app advice) before applications are submitted to iron out Planning Officer objections.
  3. Statutory public consultation is a 3 week window starting approx one week after applications are received by SBDC, although this timeframe can be interpreted depending on delays along the way. Significant changes to drawings partway through consultation can extend the public consultation period, but a request to the Planning Department might be needed.
  4. SBDC publish all submitted documents, timings, consultation dates, and decisions on the SBDC planning website.
  5. SBDC will accept objections beyond the end of public consultation because they must consider all comments received up to the time their planning officer writes their recommendation.
  6. The number of objections can be important in determining whether an application is referred to Planning Committee for decision, and whether the Planning Officer can make the final decision under Delegated Authority.
  7. Generally, 10+ objections will be needed for automatic referral to the Planning Committee. If neighbours plan to object to a development, they should make at least 9 others aware so that they can independently submit objections, or there is a strong risk that the application will be decided by the Planning Officer.
  8. Note:
    a. Objections should be as specific as possible but do not need to be all encompassing to be registered. Even a directed single paragraph emailed to the email address with the planning reference number and address of the objector, is sufficient as a counted objection
    b. Only one objection per household
    c. Anyone can object, even those living further away, as long as they have reason to do so
    d. Bulstrode Camp Association (BCL) do not to get involved in planning issues. This is beyond the remit of BCL and the board. However, BCL will be involved in the development stage as it will affect the road and verges, either temporarily or permanently.
  9. For minor developments, the SBDC Planning Officers are able to write up their recommendation/decision immediately after the end of public consultation, but will do so only if no objections were forthcoming during the public consultation period.
  10. If Planning Officers recommend refusal, applicants tend to (but not always) withdraw their application as the Planning Committee tend to follow an Officer’s refusal.
  11. Planning Officers write up their recommendations about 1 week before the Planning Committee meeting, and publish this on the planning application page.

Credit: The information on this page has been kindly put together by our local GX Town Council. While the information is correct at the time of writing (Feb 2018) planning policies and procedures will change, so please use due diligence when preparing any planning documentation. The information given above is just a summary. It is based on a more complete document which can be found here. Please download the full document if you would like to learn more about the planning process.