The process

The Planning Act 2008 process was introduced to streamline the decision-making process for nationally significant infrastructure projects, making it fairer and faster for communities and developers alike.

Short film explaining the process

The 2008 Act was amended by the Localism Act 2011, and the key stages in the process are:


The process begins when the Planning Inspectorate is informed by a developer that they intend to submit an application to us in the future. Before submitting an application, the developer is required to carry out extensive consultation on their proposals. The length of time taken to prepare and consult on the project will vary depending upon its scale and complexity. Responding to the developer’s pre-application consultation is the best time to influence a project, whether you agree with it, disagree with it or believe it could be improved.


The acceptance stage begins when a developer submits a formal application for development consent to the Planning Inspectorate. There follows a period of up to 28 days (excluding the date of receipt of the application) for the Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to decide whether or not the application meets the standards required to be formally accepted for examination.


At this stage, the public will be able to register with the Planning Inspectorate and provide a summary of their views of the application in writing. At pre-examination stage, everyone who has registered and made a relevant representation will be invited to attend a preliminary meeting run and chaired by an Inspector. This stage of the process takes approximately 3 months from the developer’s formal notification and publicity of an accepted application.


Advice note 8.1 - How the process works
The Planning Inspectorate has six months to carry out the examination. During this stage, people who have registered to have their say, are invited to provide more details of their views in writing. Careful consideration is given by the Examining Authority to all the important and relevant matters, including the representations of all interested parties, any evidence submitted and answers provided to questions set out in writing and explained at hearings.


The Planning Inspectorate must prepare a report on the application to the relevant Secretary of State, including a recommendation, within 3 months of the six month examination period. The Secretary of State then has a further 3 months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

Post decision

Once a decision has been issued by the Secretary of State, there is a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court. This process of legal challenge is known as Judicial Review.

Short film on the role of local authorities in the process

Diagram of the process

Application process diagram

Click to enlarge