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Submit a planning application

How to submit and pay for planning applications in County Durham.

Need help calculating your fees? The Planning Portal: fee calculator can help you by working out the cost of any particular planning application.

You must pay the fee when you submit your application. Your application will not be processed until we have received the correct fee. 

Submit a planning application online

You can submit your planning application online by registering with the Planning Portal:

Benefits of applying online

More than 60% of all planning applications are now made online.

  • It's quick, easy to use and available 24/7.
  • Complete your application form, upload supporting documents and pay for your fees all in one place.
  • Work on your applications in draft before submission.
  • Receive immediate delivery and acknowledgement of your application.
  • Save on postage and printing costs.
  • Have an online record of your completed applications.

What do you need to submit with your application?

General advice about what to submit with your application can be found on the Planning Portal website. In addition, we've also set out some specific documentation which will be required for applications submitted in the County Durham area in our Icon for pdf Planning Application Validation Checklist (PDF, 532.5kb)

Nutrient Neutrality

In March 2022 the Government's advisor on the natural environment, Natural England,  advised us that parts of the south of the County (that sit within the River Tees catchment area), have been subject to a 'Nutrient Neutrality' notification (Nutrient Neutrality and the planning system, Local Government Association). This notification will have major implications on our ability to determine many forms of planning application in this area, including housing and overnight accommodation proposals. Before making an application which you feel may have Nutrient Neutrality implications, you are advised to ask for appropriate advice.

Where developments would fail the requirements of the Habitats Regulations appropriate assessment, developers may be asked to take action to mitigate impacts through nutrient  neutrality such as:

  • building additional mitigation into their plans onsite
  • working with the LPA to arrange for mitigation offsite
  • purchasing nutrient credits via a nutrient trading scheme (where other landowners in the catchment have taken action to reduce their nutrient load), or buying credits through the Natural England-led Nutrient Mitigation Scheme

Nutrient neutrality provides a mechanism by which development that would otherwise be prohibited on the grounds of nutrient pollution may be given consent if mitigation is put in place. Using nutrient neutrality, developers only pay for mitigation required to counteract nutrients generated by their development.

On the 27 March 2023 Natural England published pre-launch guidance on their new Nutrient Mitigation Scheme which formally launched on 31 March 2023. Under the Habitats Regulations, those planning authorities falling within the catchment area must carefully consider the nutrient impacts of any projects, including new development proposals, on habitat sites and whether those impacts may have an adverse effect on the integrity of the site that requires mitigation.

The Tees Catchment Area Planning Authorities recently commissioned a report to investigate the likely occupancy rate of new dwellings in the affected area. The conclusions of the report in relation to the area affected in County Durham suggested a lower figure than the national figure used in the Natural England published Nutrient Budget Calculator. The figure for County Durham is 1.38 rather than the 2.4 national figure. The guidance documents and the Nutrient Budget Calculator, which has been amended to reflect the lower figure for County Durham, can be found in the box below. Please contact us by email if you require any assistance with these documents. It should be noted that this should only be used for applications within the Durham County Council area. This only applies to residential applications and is not applicable for holiday accommodation.

You may also wish to look at ways in which your development could reduce the water usage lower than the 120 litres per person per day which is used in the Calculator. Lower water usage rates should be evidenced appropriately and submitted with your completed budget calculator.

You will be required to submit a copy of your completed Budget Calculator to support an application for residential development. You will also be required to submit a report providing evidence on how your development will achieve no increase in nitrogen discharge into the water courses.

We are unable to determine the application without full consideration of this matter.

Help and further information

For further information or assistance in the submission of applications, please contact us.

Contact us
03000 262 830
Our address is:
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL