The advice below provides information on different aspects of the planning process

How can I apply?

You can apply online via the website

Please complete the forms carefully as failure to provide all of the information required may result in a delay in validating your application.

If we do require additional information we will contact you by letter. If the requested information is not provided within 21 days we may treat the application as having been withdrawn or refuse it on the grounds of insufficient information.

What do I need to include?

In addition to completing the application and ownership forms, you will need to submit a location plan with your application. This is usually a 1:1250 Ordnance Survey plan or similar. The application site must be edged clearly with a red line. It should include all land necessary to carry out the proposed development. For householder applications the red line will usually be the same as your property boundary.

A blue line must be drawn around any other land owned or controlled by the applicant close to or adjoining the site.

You must provide adequate drawings to illustrate clearly what you are proposing. These should be to scale and may include block plans, elevations, floor plans and cross-sections, all depending on what you propose to do.

The planning fee (if applicable) can be paid by Secure online payment on the Council's website or via the eDevelopment Planning Portal whilst submitting your application.

Details to show in plans

If you are proposing new or extended buildings (including house extensions), a change of use, or any development which would affect parking or access, you should include details of the existing and proposed parking and access arrangements. For development affecting access onto a public road you may also need to show visibility splays and gradients. Pedestrian and cycle access and facilities should also be shown if relevant.

Drawings should also accurately show any changes to existing site levels and levels adjoining to the site. Significant trees and shrubs that will be lost or retained within or adjacent to the site should also be shown.

Additional supporting documents

Some applications may require additional information because of the particular nature of the proposal or the site. For example: a design statement may be required for a significant development in a conservation area, a flood risk assessment for a site within a flood plain, or a wildlife/habitat survey for a site with a nature conservation interest. We are always happy to discuss requirements before you make an application.

Major developments

There are special consultation procedures for very large applications (e.g. 50 or more new houses). Some large applications may require special technical reports such as environmental, transport or retail impact assessments.

What will it cost?

Planning fees are set by the Scottish Government and depend on the nature and scale of the work proposed.

In some cases an advert in the local press is required because of the nature of the application or for neighbour notification purposes, in which case there is an additional advertising fee.

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

If your proposal relates to a listed building you will usually need listed building consent as well as planning permission. Some proposals in conservation areas also need conservation area consent. A particularly high standard of design is usually needed for such developments.

What other consents may be required?

Many developments which need planning permission also need a building warrant. You should check with the Building Standards team for advice.

If your property is rented or affects someone else’s land then you will need the owner’s consent. For council houses you should contact the Housing Service for landlord’s consent.

Where can I find out more?

  • The website provides guidance on all the applications you can submit
  • All national planning regulations and national policy is available on the Scottish Government website
  • Specific guidance about West Dunbartonshire planning policies and procedures, and good practice advice notes, are available on the Council website.
  • If your work includes creating or altering an access then you may require a road opening permit from the Roads Service
  • Environmental Health
  • Licensing

What happens to an application?


New applications are checked to ensure that all the documents, plans and fees required by the law have been included. All information must be provided before processing can start. 

Consultation & Publicity

Consultations are sometimes sent to various bodies to obtain their view (e.g. Environmental Health, Roads Service, Scottish Natural Heritage, etc.). Letters are sent to immediate neighbours to advise them of the application and invite comments. In some circumstances a notice is published in the local newspaper and posted on the site. 


The planning officer assigned to the case will visit the site and assesses the proposal, taking into account planning policies, consultation responses and public representations. 


  • If problems are identified with the proposal which could be addressed by amending it, the case officer will contact the applicant to discuss whether this will be possible. 
  • Most straightforward applications are decided within 2 months.
  • Major developments & EIA applications are usually decided within 4 months.

Who decides the application?

Delegated Decisions

Most applications, and in particular householder applications, are decided by Planning officials under ’delegated powers’. The case officer prepares a report and recommendation, and the application is decided by the development management team leader.

Planning Committee

In certain situations, such as where approval would be contrary to a high number of objections, contrary to policy or would be otherwise contentious, applications are decided by the Planning Committee. The case officer prepares a report and recommendation but the Committee makes the final decision, having weighed up all matters. 

If an application is to be decided by the Committee the applicant and any objectors will advised in advance of the time and venue. Where there are objections, the applicant or an objector can request a hearing so that they can speak to the Committee before the decision is made. Hearings are designed to be fair, with both the objectors and the applicant being given a chance to speak, usually limited to 5 minutes each.

What is taken into account?

The Council is required by law to limit the matters it takes into account to the development plan policies (i.e. the strategic and local development plans), and to other “material considerations”. The application must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless there are material considerations which outweigh the plan. It is therefore useful to be aware of the content of the development plan prior to submitting an application. 

Precisely what does and does not qualify as a “material consideration” is not defined by the law, but two general rules are that the issue must be:

  • Relevant to planning (i.e. the use or development of land), and;
  • Relevant to the application 

Such matters usually include the impact on the surrounding area, environment, and infrastructure. Matters which cannot be taken into account include who is applying, their past history and the possible effect of the development on property values.

The decision

The applicant (or agent, if there is one) will be sent a decision notice. If permission has been granted this may be subject to conditions, in which case these will be included in the decision notice. If the application has been refused the decision notice will explain the reasons why the application was refused.

A planning permission will normally allow 3 years to start the development, after which permission will lapse if work has not commenced on the site.

The applicant must submit formal notices to the Development Management Team before the development starts and once the development is completed. These notices are attached to the decision notice. 

Appeals and Reviews 

Applicants who are unhappy about a refusal or conditions attached to a permission have a right to challenge the decision within 3 months of the date of the decision notice. Details of how to do this are provided on decision notices. 

For applications determined under delegated powers, the applicant can apply for a review of the decision by the West Dunbartonshire Local Review Body. Forms and guidance can be found on our Appeals and Review page.

For applications determined by the Planning Committee (and for listed building or conservation area consents) the applicant can appeal to the Scottish Ministers.