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Planning Services privacy notice

Who we are and what we do

The council is a data controller under the data protection legislation, as we collect and process personal information about you in order to provide planning services and meet our statutory obligations.

This notice explains:

  • why we ask for your personal information
  • how that information will be used
  • how you can access your records

Why we need your information and how we use it

The planning department uses various kinds of information including personal data and occasionally special categories data (previously called sensitive personal data). This statement sets out the types of information that we collect and how we process it.

We receive applications seeking planning consent of one form or another, requests for advice and we investigate allegations of breaches of planning control.

Our purpose in collecting and using data is to operate as a statutory body carrying out a public task. The most common things we use personal data for are:

  • to help us determine an application (e.g. Listed Building Consent, Certificate of Lawfulness, dropped kerbs, covenant applications)
  • publicise applications in various ways to seek comments and information
  • notifying other organisations of proposals to seek their views
  • investigating allegations
  • writing reports and making decisions

We use your personal data for the purposes of processing and determining planning applications, building regulations notices, dangerous structures,  planning policy and investigating alleged breaches.

We have a statutory obligation to provide these services in accordance with the following legislation:

  • The Building Act 1984 and the building regulations
  • Fire Safety and Places of Sports Act 1987
  • Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004
  • Planning Act 2008
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
  • Local Government Act 1972
  • Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015
  • Town and Country Planning (Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings) Act 1990

We do not sell your information to other organisations.  We do not move your information beyond the UK.  We do not use your information for automated decision making.

Source of your personal data

Your personal data may have been shared with Harlow Council by another organisation as detailed below depending on how you submitted your application.

  • Planning Portal
  • Agent Application

Any hard copy correspondence you provide will be digitised and added to the Planning Portal (redacted as appropriate) system.

What type of personal data is collected from you?

In order to administer our services we collect the following personal data from you:

  • name
  • address
  • email
  • telephone number
  • agent contact details (if applicable)
  • full address of the development
  • special categories data (previously called personal sensitive data)
  • information agreed to be confidential

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 council publishes planning applications on its website, which includes the applicant or agent name and address. However, we do redact the personal data you have provided, including signature, email addresses and telephone numbers, so these are not visible to the public and only to the council’s planning department. Please note, agent details are not normally classed as personal data therefore will be visible to the public.

We charge for planning applications and will record payment amounts made, amounts outstanding and the action taken to recover monies owed.

Enforcement cases remain confidential and at no time will we divulge the details of complainants who have informed us of alleged planning breaches.

Generally, the information we hold will have been provided by you (on an application or enquiry form or when we communicate with you), but we may also hold information provided by third parties where this is relevant, for example, complainants, statutory bodies, consultees, LGO, other council departments .

We will only ask for personal data that is appropriate to enable us to deliver our services. In some cases, you can refuse to provide your details if you deem a request to be inappropriate. However, you should note that this might affect our ability to provide some services to you.

Who your information may be shared with (internally and externally)

We will sometimes need to share the information within the public domain with other departments in the council and also to external bodies that we work alongside.  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'.

Please find further details below on how we deal with certain aspects of our services.


Comments include material considerations, which we consider when determining planning applications. All comments provided by you are held on our system along with your contact information, if it has been provided.

In order to be transparent as a public authority, we normally publish the full text of the comments you have provided and this full text is published on our public facing website. We will redact your name, address and email address however, you should be careful not to provide any personal data or special categories (previously called sensitive personal data) about yourself in these comments which is capable of identifying you to anyone else. If you do so, you must be aware that these will be seen by the public at large.

We will usually provide a summary of your comments in both our delegated and committee reports as part of the decision making process. If the application is reported to committee, the committee members receive copies of all your comments in their background papers a week before the meeting.


We receive allegations of unlawful development that we investigate and decide whether or not to act. Allegations are a useful way for us to learn about potential breaches of planning control and we treat the personal details of the persons who make the allegation in confidence. These personal details are not made public. We are required by statute to make public any enforcement notices we serve. 


The council receives planning, advert, householder and enforcement appeals. The appellant or their agents submit documents for these appeals. The documents include the appeal form that may contain personal details of the applicant and agent. Documents uploaded with the council's questionnaire may also contain personal data or special categories data (previously called sensitive personal data). Some of the third party comments are already redacted when received through the council's Planning Portal, others are redacted by our internal admin team, but some may still contain personal data or special categories data (previously called sensitive personal data), for example, letters that are sent via PINs. These comments and comments previously made at application stage are forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate and are currently not all redacted, as PINs do not make these documents public.

In addition, Harlow Council writes to third parties to notify them of the appeal. All of these documents are currently uploaded to the council's website as public information.

The consultations sent out to third parties advise the recipients to submit their comments either via the Planning Portal or by writing to the Planning Inspectorate, the consultation letter includes the following paragraph:

"Please note that your comments will be visible to the public at large.  You should be careful not to provide personal data or special categories data (previously called sensitive personal data) which is capable of identifying you but if you do, you should be aware that the public will see it so you must only provide information which you are happy for the public at large to see.

If you supply personal data belonging to a third party, please ensure you have their permission to do so.  More detailed information about data protection and privacy matters is available at the Information Commissioner's Office.

Third parties are informed when telephoning the council that their comments will be sent onto the appellant and the agent via PINs.”

Weekly list

Our weekly list of validated applications, which lists the application number, application address description of work case officer dealing and date it is to be determined by are sent to a list of councillors. Pending applications under review are visible to members of the public via the Planning Portal.

Pre-application advice

Applications for pre-application advice are stored in our system. These are not published on our website as they are commercially sensitive.

How long we keep your personal information

As a matter of principal, all personal information will be held securely and will only be retained electronically for as long as is necessary for the purpose for which it was provided.

Where it is no longer necessary to hold your information, it will be securely destroyed.

More detailed information on our retention periods is available in the council’s records retention policy, which you can find on our main privacy notice page.

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review. This privacy notice was published on 16 March 2022 and last updated on 16 March 2022.

How to contact us

If you want to request information about our privacy policy, please contact us by email to

Alternatively, you can write to us at: Legal Services, Harlow Council, Civic Centre, The Water Gardens, Harlow CM20 1WG.

For more information on how we collect, use and protect personal information generally, details of the council’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) and the council’s role as a data controller, as well as your rights as a data subject, read our main privacy notice.