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How is a planning application processed?

How to submit a planning application and an explanation of the process.


A planning application starts with the submission of an application form (online or by post), accompanied by scaled drawings and any other information needed, and the planning fee [111KB] . The form, information and fee is checked to make sure that the council has all the information it needs and if everything is in place, it is registered as a valid planning application. Your application will be returned to you if you don't submit the correct fee, dimensioned plans that show the proposal in its entirety and any supporting information that's required, such as a drainage strategy for larger applications. For more information on what type of supporting information you may need to submit, please see the following document -  Supporting Information Requirements [123KB] . Once an application is registered the council sends neighbour notification letters neighbours within 20 metres of the application site and advertises it in the local press if necessary. The drawings are available for view on the council's planning portal, and 21 days is allowed for public comments. Anyone can make comments on a proposal, but we can only consider comments which are material planning considerations. For more detailed advice on this please see our page on  objecting to a planning application.


All material objections received in time will be considered by the case officer. Sometimes the applicant will be asked to make some changes if we feel, in the light of objections, they're required to make the proposal more acceptable. If this happens and the plans change to a significant extent, objectors will be notified and given the opportunity to comment on the new proposals. If the changes are judged to have an impact on any neighbouring properties we will reissue neighbour notification and give neighbours the opportunity to view the changes and make comments.      


The council will consult statutory consultees such as the council's Roads and Transportation Services and Environmental Health, and, outwith the council, Transport Scotland, Scottish Water, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Environment Scotland, depending upon the particulars of the application.

Site visit and consideration of material issues

The case officer will visit the site, consider all development plan policies relating to the application, the views of consultees, and comments or objections submitted by neighbours. The proposal is assessed against relevant planning policies and , and other material considerations. (opens new window)   

Processing Agreements

West Lothian Council encourages the use of processing agreements. [63KB] . A processing agreement is a formal agreement between the council and the developer for processing a planning application. It should set out the roles and responsibilities of all the parties involved in the application process, and can deliver a number of benefits:

  • More effective and earlier engagement of key stakeholders.
  • Clarity early in the process about information requirements and any matters to be addressed by legal agreement;
  • Clearer lines of communication;
  • Greater predictability and certainty over the timing of key stages;
  • Greater transparency in decision making for everyone involved in the process; and
  • Faster decision making through effective project management with a focus on delivery.


A decision on whether to grant or refuse an application may be made by the Development Management Manager or the Development Management Committee of the council (local applications), or by the Planning Committee (major applications). In most cases conditions are used to control the development, or to make changes which are considered necessary to make the proposal acceptable.

Local reviews or appeals

The applicant is entitled to appeal a planning decision if unhappy with the decision, or with some of the conditions attached to the consent. Depending upon the category of application and the level at which the decision was made, the applicant may be able to seek either a local review by councillors or appeal the decision to the Scottish Government (opens new window).