Redaction policy for planning applications and associated documents

The Council publishes its planning register on line as part of its commitment to provide planning applications in electronic format.

Some planning applications will contain personal data.  The way we process personal data and sensitive personal data is governed by the Data Protection Act 1998 [which replaced ,the General Data Protection Regulations in May 2018] and the Council’s own Data Protection Policy. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides general advice on the processing of personal data and how to comply with the Data Protection Act.

E-planning provides a key change in the way the Planning Service is delivered through the provision of a range of online services to users and also self service approaches. It will create an end to end e-planning service which will be transparent/accessible with all applications plans and progress updates viewable online.

With the move to have more planning information accessible online, there is a responsibility on all staff that are handling, storing and publishing planning information to ensure that it is done correctly and in line with data protection legislation. All information received by the planning authority will need to be captured, scanned and where necessary, redacted to ensure that information published online through the Council’s online planning information system does not breach the Data Protection Act.

The advice provided by the ICO confirms that applicants and objectors should be made aware of which elements of their personal information will be published on the website.  The website will now explicitly tell applicants and agents that the personal data/sensitive personal data contained in any design and access statement or other document may appear on the website.  If they wish to ensure some data is not in the public domain they should provide it in a separate statement and notify us that it contains personal data.

We already notify objectors that all comments in relation to a planning application will be viewable on-line and in the public domain (with the exception of Enforcement Cases).

Criteria for redaction

The Planning service will take extreme care when publishing personal data or sensitive personal data on the website.  The following data will be redacted [blacked out so that it cannot be seen (in all instances, using electronic methods] or the document withheld.  It will not be published on the website:

  • signatures (hand written and electronic)
  • personal telephone numbers including mobile phone numbers (this does not include commercial or business phone numbers).
  • personal email addresses (this does not include commercial or business email address).
  • registration plates on motor vehicles
  • identification of children’s/youth’s information (photographs)
  • children’s names and ages
  • identification of vulnerable person(s) including children / youths. For example disability registration / certificates / medical documents.
  • any medical or other data about someone’s health or wellbeing
  • personal financial information (bank statements etc.)
  • nationality

Special circumstances and disabled access

Planning applications relating to development in the Green Belt may contain a special circumstances statement.  This will likely contain sensitive personal data.  This should be redacted [blacked out so that it cannot be seen].

Planning applications where the applicant refers to disabled access will contain health and medical details about the applicant and/or relatives of the applicant.

Sensitive personal data could include:

  • medical details of any living person
  • lifestyle details which reveal a health aspect e.g. needs a carer or has poor health
  • education details where a name identifies the child
  • details of any criminal convictions

If you are in any doubt please seek advice from your line manager or the Data Protection Officer at .

The Planning Service will also use its discretion to redact any comments or information it considers to be derogatory or offensive. However, it is important to note that the publishing of comments and views expressed in letters and reports submitted by applicants, consultees and representors’ on the Council’s website, does not mean that the planning authority agrees or endorses these views, or confirms any statements of fact to be correct.


The following should be considered as “literary works” for the purposes of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988:

  • drawings, CAD drawings and site plans.
  • additional information and reports accompanying the application.
  • objectors’ comments.
  • supporters’ comments
  • where there is an appeal, the appellant’s case and other person’s representation.

The owner of the copyright has the exclusive rights to copy the work, to issue copies of the work to the public and to communicate the work to the public. Under regulation 12(5)(c) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, the Planning Service can withhold copyright material where they consider it will cause the creator to suffer harm.  However, the Planning Service will not normally rely on this exception to withhold material. 

It is not an infringement of copyright to release material in response to a request for information.  The Intellectual Property rights continue to exist and the requester will be limited in what they can do with the information because it is still protected.  There are other permitted uses, “fair dealing” use, that the requester can use and it will be the requester’s responsibility to ensure they do not infringe copyright,

Ordnance Survey maps, and maps created from Ordnance Survey material are subject to Crown copyright. It is therefore recommended that the use of the mapping is limited to an allowance to view and download for private and non-commercial purposes only. It should be made clear that mapping may not be further sub-licensed, sold, demonstrated, lent, or otherwise transferred or exploited without prior written permission of Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey shall not be held liable for the map material not being fit for your purposes or applications.