Guide to How Planning Applications are Decided

As required by the Development and Planning Act 1974, applications for planning permission must be decided in accordance with the relevant development plan in force for that area, or any other statutory provision, such as a zoning order or special development order, which may apply to the application site. Regard must also be had to any representations which are received and any other relevant consideration.

The decision to approve or refuse planning permission is made either by the Development Applications Board or the Director of Planning in accordance with the Department’s Scheme of Delegation 2020.

What is a 'relevant consideration'?

A ‘relevant consideration’ is one which is material to making the decision of whether to grant or refuse planning permission for a particular proposal. The scope of what can constitute a relevant consideration must be related to planning, which is concerned with the development and use of land in the public interest. Therefore, the protection of purely private interests such as the impact of a development on the value of a neighbouring property or loss of private rights to light or a view would not be considered ‘relevant considerations’.

The planning application process

The Department aims to process planning applications in as timely a manner as possible whilst ensuring that each application is given proper consideration and appropriately thorough assessment. The progress of planning applications can be tracked online via the Department’s Customer Self Service portal.

Once an application passes vetting, a site notice has been displayed and any required fees have been paid, it is published in the Official Gazette, affording members of the public two weeks to submit any comments they may wish to make on the application. Further information on the publicity process and how to comment on an application can be found here. Consultations with other departments or bodies are also carried out for certain applications.

The application will then be assigned to a technical officer who will make desk-based and on-site assessments of the proposal. Applications are regularly discussed with other members of the Development Management team or the Director of Planning.

Once the period for the receipt of representations and consultation responses have been received (or the deadline for consultees responses has expired), a decision on the application may be made. At this stage, the technical officer will prepare a report setting out their recommendations on the application which will be reviewed by a supervising officer and referred to either the Development Applications Board or the Director of Planning, in accordance with the protocols set out below.

Procedure for applications determined by the Board

Meetings of the Development Applications Board are typically held fortnightly. Prior to each meeting, an agenda is prepared and published here and the report of the technical officer, together with all drawings and other relevant details associated with the application and any representations and consultation responses which may have been received, are made available to the Board for their review at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

During the meeting, the technical officer will present the details of the application to the Board together with their recommendation. The Board may then discuss the proposal and ask for clarification on any point from technical officers prior to making a determination as to whether to approve or refuse the application. The Board may also resolve to defer the application for consideration at a subsequent meeting for any reason, such as if additional information is required or if the Board wishes the technical officer to request that the applicant consider a revised proposal.

Once a determination has been made by the Board, the decision letter will be issued, all drawings will be stamped and the Department will notify the applicant and any objectors of the Board’s decision. Once confirmed by the Chair, the minutes of the meeting are posted here and attached to the electronic file of each application which was discussed at that meeting.

Decisions of the Development Applications Board may be appealed to the Minister responsible for Planning within 21 days.

Procedure for applications determined by the Director

Decisions made by the Director under delegated powers can be made at any time following the expiration of the advertisement period, receipt of all consultee responses or expiration of the deadline for receipt of consultation responses. This process allows less complex applications to be processed in a more efficient manner, however such applications will be subject to the same level of public consultation and assessment by technical officers as applications referred to the Board.

In order to ensure quality in decision-making, all applications which are determined under delegated powers are referred to a reviewing officer prior to being referred to the Director of Planning for determination. The Director may determine to approve or refuse planning permission, which could involve discussion with the technical officer, or may resolve to refer the application for determination by the Development Applications Board.

Once a determination has been made by the Director, the decision letter will be issued, all drawings will be stamped and the Department will notify the applicant and any objectors of the Director’s decision. The Development Applications Board is also notified of all decisions which have been issued by the Director every two weeks.

Decisions of the Director of Planning may be appealed to the Development Applications Board within 28 days.

Letters of objection and/or representation should be emailed to referencing the PLAN or SUB number in the subject line.

Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building, 5th Floor, 58 Court Street Hamilton, HM12, Bermuda

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