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North Devon Council is asking planning applicants to check the validity of their applications before submitting them.

The council’s Planning Team says it has been receiving an increasing number of planning applications that are invalid, and is therefore requesting that agents and homeowners ensure validity before submitting an application through the online planning portal.

Nationally, there has been an increase in planning applications and in North Devon, the demand for extra space or home offices caused by the Covid pandemic has seen applications in the district increase by 40%. The council’s Planning Team says the additional work generated by the increase is compounded by capacity problems, as they are currently short-staffed.

Lead Member for Economic Development and Strategic Planning Policy at North Devon Council, Councillor Malcolm Prowse, says: "Like any other organisation we are struggling to recruit at the moment and that, coupled with the continuing increase in the number of planning applications, means we are still working hard to catch up and make improvements. 

"These delays are not helped by the amount of invalid applications that we are receiving. We need everyone to check their applications against the Local List and ensure that any supporting documents, such as Heritage Impact Assessments meet the requirements set out before submission.

"We are also receiving a lot of submissions that are requiring numerous revisions so are getting stuck in the system. In order to assist with managing this workload we will be allowing one revision to be made before asking for either a withdrawal or refusing the application. We will of course apply some flexibility  but we must ask that you look to make your application as complete as possible, which may mean talking to consultees and paying for their pre-application advice, along with ours, prior to submission."

To find out more about the council's pre-application advice and charges, please visit their website.