Last updated:

25th July 2023

Frequently asked questions

We have provided a list of answers to questions we are typically asked on the following topics:

How do you make a decision?

The planning system is ‘plan led’. This means we have to make a decision on a planning application based on national and local planning policy. We assess an application against these policies and decide if it is in accordance or contrary to them. This is informed by the information that is sent in with an application, the planning history of the site, a site visit and any supplementary planning documents e.g. a design guide.

What does planning policy mean?

Planning policy refers to the set of policies that are in place and are typically set out in documents covering a plan period e.g. Wokingham is in the plan period of 2014 to 2026. There are two levels of policy: national and local.

  • National policy is covered by the National Planning Policy Framework and this sets out what should happen with different aspects like the economy, the natural environmental, flooding, heritage or the Green Belt.
  • Local policy is set out in the Core Strategy and the Managing Development Delivery Local Plan. These policies are specific to the requirements of Wokingham Borough and they govern how we want the Borough to develop over the plan period.

After these two documents there are other ‘supplementary planning documents’. These contain guidance on specific matters e.g. ‘Borough Design Guide’ and ‘Sustainable Design and Construction’. You can find all these documents on the planning policy page.

How long does it take to make a decision?

The Government require us to determine applications within 8 weeks. For major development e.g. 10 houses or more this increases to 13 weeks. This always includes (as a minimum) a 21 day consultation period where we seek information from consultees and inform neighbouring land owners of an application. For householder applications e.g. extensions or dormer windows, the vast majority are determined within 8 weeks. More complex applications take longer but if we need to, we will agree a new determination date with you.

How many applications do you approve?

In terms of householder applications, approximately 90 percent are approved. If we refuse an application, you do have the option of appealing against this. For new housing developments this is approximately 60 percent.

How do you tell people about applications?

We send a ‘postcard’ to neighbouring land owners (where the boundary clearly adjoins the application site) and this starts a 21 day consultation. If a consultation contains a public holiday, an additional day is added. Whilst we do send a site notice to applicants, they are not required to display this. For large scale applications, we put up a site notice in accordance with legislation and advertise in a local newspaper. Anyone can comment on a planning application however and you can do so on our planning application search page.

Can I discuss my scheme with you first?

We offer a pre-application service and we really encourage you to take advantage of this. Further details can be found on our pre-application advice page. A pre-application request will give you more certainty about what is acceptable or not acceptable in terms of your scheme. We will also tell you if we need information about a specific issue e.g. we may need a bat survey if you are thinking of doing work to your roof. Pre-application requests will save you time and money in the long run as you will know how and whether to go ahead with your project.

How do I comment on an application?

Anyone can comment on a planning application and you can do this at any point whilst the application is pending a decision. We really encourage you to do so within the consultation period because after this, we may have made a decision and can no longer take your comment into account. If you want to comment on an application, visit our planning application search page. Comments are limited to 50,000 characters so if you need to exceed this limit, email Remember that we can only consider planning matters and for more information on this, look at our material considerations page.

Do you share any of my information online?

When you make a comment on an application, we ask for your name and address and this will be displayed online. We are required to ask for these details by planning legislation and cannot accept anonymous comments.  We also ask for your email address so that we can notify you when a decision is made (or if an appeal is made) however this is not displayed online. Again, we are required to do this by planning legislation.

I want to submit an application. Where do I start?

We recommend that you employ a planning agent to help you. They will have knowledge about the planning process, where to get plans and can submit an application for you on the Planning Portal website. It is really helpful if you choose someone who is familiar with Wokingham in terms of the area and our planning policies. Perhaps ask someone who has had an extension or visit a trade’s people website. To find out what you need to submit, visit our how to submit a planning application page. 

What is a 'prior approval'?

Certain types of development are granted planning permission by national legislation without the need to submit a planning application. This is known as 'Permitted Development'. In order to be eligible for these permitted development rights, each 'Class' specified in the legislation has associated limitations and conditions that proposals must comply with. 

One such condition on certain classes of permitted development is the need to submit an application to us for our 'Prior Approval’. This means that, whilst we cannot say no to the development, we can consider its likely impacts in regard to a limited number of factors and how these may be mitigated. Some of the most common prior approvals relate to new telecommunications masts, additional storeys on houses and changing an office building to housing.

It is important to remember we can only consider what is set out in legislation and this is typically much less than a standard planning application. For example, whilst the transport and highway impacts of a scheme are considered, the principle of development is already deemed acceptable.

Do I need planning permission for renewable technologies in my home?

Most common renewable energy projects for your home e.g., solar panels, wind turbines, air or ground source heat pumps, can be installed under permitted development. There are some limitations to this so visit the Common Projects page on the Planning Portal website to understand more. If you think your scheme is within the limitations of permitted development, you can go ahead and start work (you may want to inform your neighbours of this). However, we would always recommend you submit a Certificate of Lawfulness to the Council to get formal confirmation of this. 

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