Commenting on planning application

If there is a planning application near your home or business, you will receive notification from the council, providing information about the application and how you can feed your comments on the application back to the council.

Notices also have to be placed near to the site or building that the application is for, which include information on what the application is for and the application number, which would enable you to get additional details from the council on the application.

Whilst you can feed back any comments you like to support, oppose or just comment on a planning application, some of the reasons that you think may appear quite reasonable and entirely sensible cannot legally be considered when deciding whether to grant or reject an application.

These include :

  • Loss of value to your property (the Council cannot reject a planning application on the grounds that it will reduce the value of your house if built).
  • Competition (the Council can’t reject an application for a business on the grounds that it will compete with another, existing business).
  • Loss of view (you might have bought your house because of the lovely view across the field, but the council can’t reject an application on that basis)
  • Boundary disputes including encroachment of foundations
  • Private covenants or agreements
  • The applicant’s personal conduct or history (just because they’ve fiddled the system before, the council can’t reject their latest application).
  • The applicant’s motives
  • Potential profit from the application for the applicant
  • Private rights to light
  • Private rights to way/access
  • Damage to property
  • Disruption during any construction phase
  • Work already done
  • Fence lines
  • Loss of trade or competitors
  • Age, health, status, background
  • Work patterns of the objector
  • Time taken to do the work
  • Capacity of private drains
  • Building or structural techniques
  • Alcohol or gaming licences
  • Matters covered by other legislation

Whilst highway safety (as listed below) is a valid consideration, the impact of the development on wider highways issues unfortunately in most cases is not a valid reason for objection.

There are however lots of valid objections to planning applications, called “material planning considerations”.

These include:

  • Loss of light or overshadowing (this isn’t just a high wall – it means loss of light to the extent that you don’t get enough natural daylight to see by).
  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Visual amenity (but not loss of private view)
  • Adequacy of parking/loading/turning
  • Highway safety
  • Traffic generation
  • Noise and disturbance resulting from use
  • Hazardous materials
  • Smells
  • Loss of trees
  • Effect on listed buildings and conservation area
  • Layout and density of building
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Landscaping
  • Road access
  • Local, strategic, regional and national planning policies
  • Government circulars, orders and statutory instruments
  • Disabled persons’ access
  • Compensation and awards of cost against the Council at public enquiries
  • Proposals in the Development Plan
  • Nature conservation
  • Archaeology
  • Solar panels
  • Fear of crime (with evidence to show that the fear is based in reality)

When considering an application, the Council also has to ask “What could be done without any application?”

For example, suppose someone wants to take an office block, knock it down and build houses.  People might say “Those houses will create traffic.”  They will, but in planning, the Council can only consider traffic over and above what the existing offices would generate if they were fully occupied.

Further information on planning applications including, copies of the plans are viewable on the council’s website by clicking here which will take you to a search page which allows searching by a variety of means to find planning applications.

The section for each individual application contains details on the application, along with information on who (at the council) and how the application will be dealt with (ie via the development control committee or by officer delegation).

Whether the application is dealt with via officer delegation or by going before the development control committee, officers will consider the application and any issues raised against the relevant planning rules such as the ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ as set by the government, prior to determining the application if the application is delegated or making a recommendation if the application is to be determined by the development control committee. 

There is also a link to a comments form which enables an easy way to make comments on an application – you can also email them separately to planning@highpeak.gov.uk (you should include the application number in any emails).

In addition to any local comments planning applications also go to a number of other bodies and agencies (such as Environmental Health, High Ways, Network Rail) who can also make comments.

The below links offer some suggestions on objecting to a planning application :

http://www.planninghelp.org.uk/improve-where-you-live/how-to-comment-on-a-planning-application/letter-of-objection

http://www.hampdenfieldsactiongroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/HowtoobjecttoaplanningapplicationEbook.pdf

http://planninglawblog.blogspot.co.uk/p/how-to-object.html?m=1

http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/cyw_55_planning_applications.pdf

and if you wanted to support one the following may be of use :

http://www.planninghelp.org.uk/improve-where-you-live/how-to-comment-on-a-planning-application/letter-of-support

If the application is to be determined by the development control committee, you may also want to contact / email members of the committee with your objection or support for an application. You can view details of the current members of the development control committee by clicking here.

The email address format is first name . last name @ highpeak.gov.uk (ie mine is anthony.mckeown@highpeak.gov.uk) or click on their name on the list (on the link above) for further details.

Please note however that members of the committee (and substitutes) cannot advise you of whether they support or oppose an application prior to the meeting, because if they do so they are not able to take part in deciding that application.

Quite often you may feel an application is unsuitable – however the council can only decide applications within the rules set by the government.

One other ‘group’ you may wish to contact if you have particular views on an application could be the owners of the land that is the subject of the application because whilst they don’t always need to be involved in an application, quite often the application would not be taking place without the land owners been willing to sell the land to allow the development.

If you have any questions or comments or issues that you think I should be aware of, please let me know – you can view ways to get in touch by clicking here.