Privacy notice – planning

Who we are

We are the planning department for North Somerset Council which is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office for the purposes of processing personal data. Part of our service is administrated on behalf of North Somerset Council by our partner Agilisys, who can be contacted at: Third Floor, One Hammersmith Broadway, London, W6 9D; 0845 450 1131; info@agilisys.co.uk.

This privacy notice explains how we use information in the course of our work as a local planning authority. This work includes:

  • Making decisions and providing advice on planning applications
  • Making planning policies
  • Working with neighbourhoods on their plans
  • Working with neighbouring authorities on strategic policies
  • Responding to allegations of unlawful development
  • Monitoring development
  • Entering legal agreements, serving notices and promoting the best use of land

How we get information

We get applicant information in two ways – it is supplied to us directly (or via a planning agent on their behalf) or we receive it from a third party website that provides a transaction service. These include:

  • The Planning Portal
  • iApply
  • e-Consult

We also receive comments, representations, allegations and questions via email, letter, and through our website.

What we do with information

To allow us to make decisions on their applications individuals must provide us with some personal data (eg name, address, contact details). In a small number of circumstances individuals will provide us with special category data in support of their application (eg evidence of medical history).

We use the information provided to us to make decisions about the use of land in the public interest, which we have official authority to do in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).  This is in accordance with Article 6(1)(e) of GDPR, and is why you have never been asked to opt in to allow your information to be used. We may also use the information for the purposes of determining and applying the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) under the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations (CIL) 2010 (as amended).

Some information provided to us we are obliged under the regulations to make available on planning registers. This is a permanent record of our planning decisions that form part of the planning history of a site, along with other facts that form part of the ‘land search’.

Unless otherwise agreed with you, we will only collect the minimum personal data required to deliver the service, which includes your name, address, contact details and any other personal information that you decide to send to us in support of your application or as part of a consultation comment.  We do not require any special category personal information, or information relating to criminal convictions or offences.

We will not use your personal information in a way that may cause you unwarranted nuisance.  Failure to provide the information is likely to result in applications, comments about applications and other service requests not being considered or provided.

We may lawfully disclose information to public sector agencies to prevent or detect fraud or other crime, or to support the national fraud initiatives and protect public funds under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.  Under the conditions of the Digital Economy Act 2017, we may also share personal data provided to us with other public authorities as defined in the Act, for the purposes of fraud or crime detection or prevention, to recover monies owed to us, to improve public service delivery, or for statistical research.  We do not share the information with other organisations for commercial purposes.

Information displayed on our website

We will make details of planning applications available online so that people can contribute their comments. We will sometimes need to share the information we have with other parts of the council-for example to establish how long a building has been used as a dwelling.

We also display on our website comments received from third parties such as the occupants of neighbouring properties.

If information is displayed on our website that you consider is personal, offensive or defamatory you should contact us using our online contact form to request that it is removed and we will consider your request. If you contact us in accordance with the provisions of section 5 of the Defamation Act 2013 we are required by law to contact the person who posted the comments and inform them of your complaint. If you do not want section 5 of the Defamation Act to apply then you should clearly confirm this when you contact us.

More information about the Defamation Act can be found on gov.UK.

The following information that is kept on our files will normally be kept confidential and will not be made available for public inspection:

  • legal opinion received by the council
  • personal financial information
  • formal complaints and matters relating to breaches of planning control and planning enforcement

Redaction (blanking things out)

We operate a policy where we routinely redact the following details before making forms and documents available online:

  • Personal contact details for the applicant – e.g..telephone numbers, email addresses
  • Signatures
  • Special Category Data – e.g. supporting statements that include information about health conditions or ethnic origin
  • Information agreed to be confidential

Sometimes we might decide it is necessary, justified and lawful to disclose data that appears in the list above. In these circumstances we will let you know of our intention before we publish anything.

If you are submitting supporting information which you would like to be treated confidentially or wish to be specifically withheld from the public register, please let us know as soon as you can – ideally in advance of submitting the application. The best way to contact us about this issue is by using our online contact form.

Retention (how long we keep your information for)

The personal data you provide will be held and used in accordance with the requirements of UK and European data protection law and will be held for period time that is appropriate to the service being provided as listed below:

  • applications for planning permission and other land use consents and certificates – indefinitely
  • neighbours’ comments about planning applications – one year from decision
  • pre-application advice – 15 years from issue
  • enforcement notices – indefinitely
  • enforcement correspondence – 15 years from receipt
  • general enquiries or service requests – 4 months from last contact
  • comments about planning policy consultations – 15 years
  • Community Infrastructure Levy forms, notices and correspondence – 15 years

Complaints and problems

Making decisions on planning matters is a public task and you do not normally have the right to withdraw consent. However, if you think we have got something wrong or there is a reason you would prefer for something to not be disclosed please ask us in writing using our online contact form.

If you need to make a complaint specifically about the way we have processed your data you should in the first instance contact our our Data Protection Officer at DPO@n-somerset.gov.uk. If we fail to respond properly you can direct your concerns to the Information Commissioners Office.

You have the right to see the personal data we process about you, as well as the right of objection, rectification and restriction.  For details of how to make such a request, please click here.

Terms of use – commenting on applications

When sending us comments about applications you should only use this website for lawful purposes and in a manner that does not infringe the rights of, or restrict or inhibit the use and enjoyment of this site by anyone else. Restriction or inhibition includes (without limitation):

  • conduct which is unlawful
  • conduct which may harass or cause distress or inconvenience to anyone
  • the transmission of obscene or offensive content
  • the disruption of normal flow of dialogue within this sit

You must not post or transmit via this website:

  • any unlawful, defamatory, obscene, offensive or scandalous material
  • any material that constitutes or encourages conduct that would be considered a criminal offence, likely to give rise to civil liability or otherwise violates any law

We will fully co-operate with any law enforcement authorities or court order lawfully requesting or directing us to disclose the identity of anyone posting any such information or materials on this website.

Anonymous comments about planning application will normally be given little weight when we decide to approve or refuse applications. This is because knowing where a resident lives can help us to decide how much weight to attribute to the issues they raise. For example, where two neighbours object to a new development because of overlooking, knowing that one lives adjacent to the site and the other some distance away allows the council to understand the impact that the development will have on them. For this reason, we normally display on our website the address of people who submit comments, in accordance with the requirements of Article 6(1)(f) of GDPR.