A departure application is a planning application that is not in line with, or 'departs from', the development plan in force in the area where the application is being made. It used to be the case that the Secretary of State had to be notified if a local planning authority intended to approve a departure application.
In April 2009 a new circular and direction, The Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009, providing guidance on which applications local authorities must notify the Secretary of State of came into force. This direction removed the need for local authorities to inform the Secretary of State if they intend to approve a departure application.
This means that it is more important than ever that if people are concerned about the potentially very significant impacts of a planning application that is not in line with the development plan, they write to Secretary of State requesting that he or she calls the application in.
The 2009 Direction does still require local planning authorities to notify the Secretary of State before approving certain types of very significant development. More information about these criteria can be found here.
Even though local planning authorities no longer have to inform the Secretary of State about all departure applications they intend to approve, these applications have to be publicised locally more than other types of application. When a local authority receives a departure application, it must:
These consultation rules are set out in Article 13 of the Town & Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2010.