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Cambridge City Council

Petitions and development control forum

Whenever we receive a planning application, a letter is sent to neighbours and other people likely to be affected, giving 21 days to send in comments.

If your petition meets certain conditions you can ask to present it to a development control forum.

Development control forum

A development control forum is a meeting where petitioners can present their views to councillors, planning officers and the applicant some weeks before a planning application is finally determined.

The aim of the forum is to allow early discussion of the planning issues raised by petitioners and to explore the scope for building consensus and resolving concerns.

It is an informal meeting and the forum does not determine the application. A formal committee ultimately determines the application.

Your petition

When we receive a planning application we send a letter to neighbours and other people likely to be affected by the development, allowing 21 days for comments.

The letter states that a development control forum might be held on the planning application for petitions that meet certain requirements.

The petition must state that a development control forum is being requested. You can download a sample petition [PDF, 25Kb].

Petitions the forum will consider

The development control forum will consider a petition:

  • containing at least 25 signatures and addresses of Cambridge city residents
  • of objection that is received within the initial 21 day consultation period
  • of support, but only if there is also a qualifying petition of objection to be considered - a petition of support must be received within seven days of the close of the initial 21 day consultation period
  • that solely relates to comments on an eligible planning application that is under consideration.

Petitions must clearly state what the planning concerns are about the application, and whether or not it is an outright in-principle objection to the development. If it is not, we encourage you to say in the petition what changes might be made to the development to overcome your concerns.

You will be expected to explain what changes you are seeking at the development control forum itself.

Timescales have to be set for the receipt of petitions because we have to deal with applications within government set deadlines.

What the forum will not consider

The development control forum will not consider applications:

  • to alter, extend or carry out other works to a house and its surroundings (householder applications)
  • to create a new single house or other single residential unit
  • for a change of use of an existing building(s)
  • for works or alterations to existing buildings or other structures creating no additional floorspace
  • for new commercial development of less than 200 square metres (gross) additional floorspace
  • for advertisements
  • to determine whether a use of land or building needs planning permission - ie a lawful development certificate
  • for works or alterations to listed buildings
  • to demolish a building in a conservation area
  • by telecommunications operators asking whether the local authority's 'prior approval' is needed for the siting and appearance of works that would otherwise be 'permitted development' not requiring planning permission.

The forum will not consider petitions:

  • expressing an in-principle outright objection to the application with no suggestions for a compromise solution
  • not received within the correct timescales.

A forum will not normally be held for a petition relating to a current application amendment, or where a forum has already been held on the current application.

Petitions that fall outside the scope of the scheme will be reported directly to the relevant committee through the officer's report on the application.

How to submit a petition

If you have a petition that meets all of the above requirements and you wish to present it, please contact the committee manager at so that a meeting of the forum can be arranged. We will give you at least seven days notice about the meeting date and time.

Applicants and petitioners will be expected to meet the next available date because of the tight deadlines we have in determining planning applications.

The committee manager can be contacted using the contact details found at the bottom of this webpage.

Online petitions

You can also set up a petition using our online petition system. Your request should include all information included on the sample. Contact or 01223 457013 if you have any questions.

Forum times and location

Meetings of the development control forum are held monthly in the Guildhall.

For dates and times of these meetings, please contact the committee section at, or using the contact details further down the webpage.

Forum attendees

The forum is attended by:

  • up to three representatives of the petitioners. The representatives need not be city residents. You can ask your local councillor to present your petition if you wish
  • up to three representatives of the applicant
  • members of the relevant committee that will determine the application
  • ward councillors
  • the planning officer dealing with the application
  • other relevant officers, including a senior officer who chairs the meeting
  • the press and public can attend as observers

What to expect at the forum

The forum is informal but follows certain stages, including:

  • introduction by chair and declaration of councillor interests - up to five minutes
  • presentation of the application by the applicant/agent (up to three representatives) principally to address the issues raised by petitioners - up to 15 minutes
  • presentation of the views of the petitioners against the application (up to three representatives) - up to 15 minutes
  • presentation of the views of the petitioners in support of the application (up to three representatives) where applicable - up to 15 minutes
  • presentation by the planning officer - up to 10 minutes
  • member questions and issues arising - up to 30 minutes
  • summing up by the petitioners against the application - up to five minutes
  • summing up by the petitioners in support of the application - up to five minutes
  • final comments of the chair.

In exceptional circumstances, the order of proceedings may be changed at the discretion of officers and the chair and spokesperson of the relevant committee.

After the forum

The committee manager will prepare brief notes of the forum and send them to all relevant parties who attended the meeting.

The planning officer will take the outcome of the meeting into account in any further negotiations on the application and in the report to committee. The notes of the forum will also be attached to the committee report as an appendix.

We will write to the lead petitioners a week before the application is to be reported to committee.

Public speaking is allowed at committee meetings.

If you wish to speak at the committee you should contact the committee manager in accordance with the public speaking requirements.

Service related queries

For questions about a service we provide, please use our contact us form