Objecting to a planning application

Last updated: January 2024 | 3 min read

Facing a planning application that could impact your home? This guide is your essential toolkit for objecting to a planning application, offering clear, actionable advice. Whether it's a concern about right to light neighbours trees overshadowing your garden or navigating the process of how to obtain planning permission, here you'll find the crucial steps to take your stand effectively. Learn how to articulate your objections and influence local planning decisions.

Understanding the planning application process

What is a planning application?

A planning application represents a formal proposal for development, submitted to a local planning authority in the UK. It includes detailed plans and supporting documents that outline the proposed changes or developments, such as building a new structure, extending an existing building, or changing the use of a building.

The application must conform to both national and local planning policies. It is available for public viewing, allowing for community input and objections. The process ensures that developments are thoughtfully integrated into their surroundings, respecting environmental, social, and economic factors.

Role of the local planning authority in planning applications

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are at the heart of the planning application process. These bodies, typically a part of local government councils, have the responsibility to oversee and decide on planning applications.

Their role involves a detailed assessment of each application against the local development plan and national guidelines. LPAs consult with various stakeholders, including the public, parish councils, and specialized consultees like environmental agencies and highway authorities.

They evaluate aspects like design quality, impact on the local environment, infrastructure demands, and community benefits. The LPA's decision can grant, refuse, or set conditions on a planning application.

National planning policy framework: what you need to know

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is a cornerstone document in the UK planning system. It sets out the government's economic, environmental and social planning policies for England. The

NPPF is the guiding force behind local planning authorities' decisions. It emphasizes sustainable development, balancing economic growth with environmental protection and social welfare. For those objecting to a planning application, the NPPF is a critical document.

It helps understand how planning decisions are made and highlights key areas like housing needs, building on green land, heritage conservation, and climate change. Familiarity with the NPPF can strengthen objections by aligning them with national policy considerations.

Grounds for Objecting to a Proposed Development

Identifying Valid Material Considerations

Material considerations play a pivotal role in objecting to a planning application. These considerations are factors the local planning authority must take into account when deciding a planning application. They range from policies in the local plan to impacts on highway safety and property values. To object effectively, understanding what constitutes a material consideration is key. This includes assessing the proposed development's alignment with local planning policy, its potential impact on the environment, and its effects on neighbouring properties.

Impact on Conservation Area and Outstanding Natural Beauty

Proposed developments within or adjacent to designated conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty require careful scrutiny.

If your concern relates to a development in such a setting, focus on its potential impact on the character and appearance of the area. You might highlight how the development could adversely affect the landscape, historic settings, or wildlife habitats. Reference to specific policies in the local plan or national guidance on conservation areas will strengthen your objection.

Effects on Neighbouring Property and Residential Amenity

The impact of a proposed development on neighbouring properties is a legitimate ground for objection. This includes considerations such as loss of privacy, light, or overshadowing. If the development might result in significant noise or disturbance, this too can be a valid concern.

When raising these issues, be specific about how the development will affect your property or the wider community. Provide clear examples, if possible, to illustrate your points.

What Does Not Constitute a Material Consideration?

It's equally important to understand what doesn't count as a material consideration. Personal opinions on the applicant, concerns about property value changes, or objections based on factors like the applicant's business reputation aren't valid grounds. Focus on issues directly related to the use and development of land.

This ensures your objection is relevant and likely to be taken seriously by the planning authority.

How Over Development and Highway Safety Concerns Matter

Over development and highway safety are significant material considerations. If the proposed development appears too large for the area or out of character, this could be a valid objection.

Similarly, if the development poses risks to highway safety, such as increased traffic or parking issues, these are legitimate concerns. Detail any specific issues, like narrow roads or visibility problems, to substantiate your objection.

Preparing your planning objection

Structuring an effective objection letter

Drafting an objection letter to a planning application requires clarity and precision. Start by summarizing your main objections. Address each point with specific details and refer to aspects of the planning policy or local plans that support your stance. It's crucial to remain factual and avoid personal opinions.

Addressing key concerns in your own words

Express your concerns authentically. Use your voice to convey the impact of the proposed development on your life or community. Be specific about issues like loss of privacy, increased traffic, or harm to the environment. Personalize your objections with real-life implications but maintain a respectful tone.

Utilizing planning terms correctly

Familiarity with planning terminology enhances your objection's effectiveness. Reference relevant terms like 'designated conservation area' or 'adverse effect'. This demonstrates your understanding and aligns your objection with planning officers' language, making your points clearer and more persuasive.

Incorporating evidence and supporting documents

Support your objection with evidence. Include photos, reports, or studies that substantiate your points. For example, traffic analysis for increased congestion or expert opinions on environmental impact. This tangible proof strengthens your argument and shows thorough preparation.

Examples of successful planning objections

Referencing successful planning objections provides a template for effective arguments. These examples highlight strategies that resonated with planning departments, such as focusing on policy non-compliance or community impact. Emulate their structure and reasoning while tailoring your content to the specific case.

Submitting your objection to the planning department

Finding the correct contact and address details

Locating the right contact at the planning department is key. Visit the local authority's website or contact their office to get accurate details. Ensure your objection reaches the correct person or department to avoid delays or misplacement.

Understanding the time limit for objections

Be aware of the time limit for submitting objections. Most councils specify a deadline from the date of the planning application's public notice. Missing this deadline could mean your objection isn't considered, so submit it promptly.

Navigating the planning portal and online submission

Many local authorities offer online submission through a planning portal. This method is efficient and provides immediate confirmation of receipt. Familiarize yourself with the portal's requirements, such as attaching documents or specifying the planning application number, for a smooth submission process.

After submitting your objection

How the council reviews and takes account of objections

Councils consider each planning objection with a focus on legality and community impact. This process involves multiple steps. Initially, a planning officer assesses the objection's relevance to planning matters. They check if the concerns align with planning policies and local development plans.

Next, the decision maker, often a senior planning officer or a planning committee, evaluates the objection. They balance it against the planning application's merits and the broader public interest. Your objection becomes part of the public record, accessible on the council's website. It's crucial for objectors to monitor the council's website for updates.

Role of planning officers and planning committee

Planning officers play a pivotal role. They conduct initial assessments of objections and make recommendations. Their expertise in planning matters guides their advice to the planning committee. Planning officers focus on policy compliance, impact on the application site, and broader planning considerations.

The planning committee, typically comprising elected council members, decides on significant or controversial applications. They consider the planning officer's report, public objections, and the applicant's responses. Meetings often involve discussions and votes on the application's future development.

Understanding the council's decision-making process

The council's decision-making process for planning applications combines technical assessment and public opinion. The process adheres to delegated powers, allowing planning officers to decide on less contentious applications. More complex or controversial applications go to the planning committee.

This process ensures that each planning decision considers all relevant factors. These include planning policy, the development plan's guidelines, and public objections. Decisions made are documented and shared publicly, providing transparency and accountability.

What happens if your objection is not taken into account?

If the council does not take your objection into account, several factors might be at play. Sometimes, objections don't align with statutory planning considerations. In such cases, the council might disregard them as irrelevant to the planning decision.

If you believe your objection was unjustly overlooked, you can seek clarification from the council. Understanding the reasoning behind their decision can provide valuable insights. For unresolved concerns, there's the option to contact a local councilor or consider legal advice.

Attending planning committee meetings: When and why

Attending planning committee meetings is valuable for objectors. These meetings, where planning decisions are often made, are usually open to the public. Attending provides firsthand insight into the decision-making process and an opportunity to express concerns directly.

Before attending, check the council's website for meeting dates, agendas, and procedures. Some councils allow public speaking, while others have more restrictive policies. Engaging in these meetings can be a powerful way to influence decision makers.

© 2000 - 2024 Net Lawman Limited.
All rights reserved