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Planning FAQs

How we make planning decisions

How does the council make decisions on planning applications?

Most small and less complex planning applications are decided by council officers who have 'delegated' powers to make the decision. 

Large, complex or controversial decisions are usually decided by a Planning Committee. 

What is Planning Committee?

Southwark has one Planning Committee and two Planning Sub-Committees. These committees are made up of elected councillors who decide whether planning applications should be approved or refused.

Find out more about:

Planning Committee meetings take place in the council offices at 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH. These meetings are open to the public and are live-streamed on Southwark Council's YouTube channel

What type of planning applications go to Planning Committee?

Planning Committee generally considers planning applications for the following type of development:

  • 50 or more homes
  • 3,500sqm or more commercial floorspace
  • mixed use development with 3,500sqm floorspace or more, including applications for change of use

These applications must also meet at least one or more of the following criteria:

  • has 5 or more relevant objections, including the council’s own developments
  • is requested by two councillors to be determined by a Planning Committee, and agreed by the chair of the committee
  • the proposed development does not comply with all the policies in the Southwark Plan
  • is clearly linked to another application that is to be considered by the planning committee
  • involves a legal agreement, other than those in accordance with policy requirements
  • is of strategic importance, referable to Mayor London or requires Secretary of State notification as a departure from the development plan
  • requires an Environmental Impact Assessment
  • includes development of Metropolitan Open Land or contaminated land

Planning Sub-Committees generally consider planning applications for the following type of development:

  • 10-49 homes
  • 1,000sqm - 3,500sqm commercial floorspace
  • mixed use development with 1,000sqm - 3,500sqm of floorspace, including applications for change of use

These applications must also meet at least one or more of the following criteria:

  • has 5 or more relevant objections, including the council’s own developments
  • the proposed development does not comply with all the policies in the Southwark Plan

Planning Sub-Committees also consider:

  • planning applications requested by two councillors to be determined by Planning Committee, and agreed by the chair of the committee
  • Development of Metropolitan Open Land

What is a relevant objection?

A ‘relevant objection’ is an objection that raises a material planning consideration. Some applications with 5 or more objections will not be considered by Planning Committee. For example, the objections can be resolved by a planning condition, or the application clearly complies with the relevant planning policies. Applications that are recommended for refusal will not go to Planning Committee.

How can I find out if an application is going to be decided by Planning Committee?

You can view all Planning Committee dates on our website. If you have commented on a planning application, then we will email you before it goes to Planning Committee.

Am I able to speak at Planning Committee?

If you want to speak at a committee meeting then you must tell our constitutional team by 5pm the day before the meeting. You can do this by emailing Constitutional.Team@southwark.gov.uk

Only one representative is allowed to object to or support the application. Speakers must live within 100 metres of the application site. Both representing sides can speak for up to 3 minutes.

Page last updated: 21 November 2023

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