Photographs to support planning applications

We are asking agents and people making planning applications to provide photographs as part of their application, particularly for householder applications, advertisements, shop fronts and other minor applications as these may speed up decision-making.

Which photographs to take

You should include up to date photographs of the application site with your application which show the location of the proposed development in the context of its surroundings.

You should submit your up to date photographs electronically. The photographs should be date stamped and clearly labelled to indicate what they show.  Files sizes should be limited so they can be easily attached to a single email/document.

Photographs or video should include:

  • the actual site and the surroundings (in all directions)
  • proximity to/over boundaries
  • adjacent property with particular attention to any doors/windows
  • front elevations / driveway
  • street scene to from to show character of neighbouring property
  • any notable trees/features on site or on adjacent property
  • for adverts – the current elevation, context and surroundings

The site plan submitted with your application should be annotated to show where the photographs are taken from as indicated below:

site plan showing where photographs were taken from

How the photographs be used

We will use the photographs submitted with applications to help speed up our determination of your application.

You do not have to submit photographs but doing so may speed up our determination of your application.

We will keep photographs or videos on the application file but we won't  publish them on the Council’s website due to any privacy concerns from neighbouring properties.

Site visits

Officers may contact you for additional photographic or video material if they consider that this will help them to make a quicker decision. They may still undertake a site visit if they feel there is insufficient information to assess the application or objections are received to the proposals which require further consideration. If no photographs are submitted this will delay the processing of your application. You are therefore strongly encouraged to submit photographs to help us speed up processing times.

Background - why we're doing this

The council has recently commenced a review of the Planning Service and has identified a series of measures to help reduce the current backlog of planning applications and improve engagement with our customers.

This has included a review of how we determine applications and the undertaking of site visits.

Whilst it is normal practice that Officers undertake a site visit for all submitted planning applications to see the context of the site, the surroundings and to assist in assessing the impact of the proposed development, a site visit is not always required if these considerations can be satisfied by using photographic material instead.

In response to the Covid19 pandemic many Local Planning Authorities assessed straight forward planning applications by using photographic and video evidence instead of undertaking site visits. Lots of Planning Departments and some private Approved Inspectors (Building Control) are continuing to use digital evidence as it allows decisions to be made faster.

Due to the current backlog of planning applications, the Council has decided to introduce a pilot scheme that removes the need to undertake a site visit for every application. The pilot will be reviewed after 6 months to evaluate its impact on reducing the backlog of applications and speed by which applications can be processed.

Page last reviewed: 08 July 2022