The determination of planning applications by the Council is almost a quasi-judicial process; this means that the process is tightly governed by legislation and guidance, meaning that decisions on planning must be made on planning grounds only and can be legally challenged if the correct process is not followed.
Except where specifically advised, most planning applications are not from the Council; they will have been made by an individual or a company.
If an application has been submitted with the right paperwork and information, the Council legally has to process and consider the application through the appropriate process; it cannot reject a valid application on a whim.
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 either object to support or comment on the application back to the Council.
Notices also have to be placed near 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 on the application from the Council.
Details of all planning applications within the High Peak are also available on the Council’s website, and you can search for and view details by clicking here.
Invalid Grounds for Objection
While you can give feedback or any comments you would like to support, oppose, or comment on a planning application, some of the reasons you think may seem 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 a development on wider highways issues is, unfortunately, in most cases, not a valid reason for objection.
Material Considerations / Valid Grounds for Objection
However, there are many valid objections to planning applications, called “material planning considerations”.
- 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
- Loss of trees
- Effect on listed buildings and conservation area
- Layout and density of the building (s)
- Design, appearance and materials
- 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
- Solar panels
- Fear of crime (with evidence to show that the fear is based in reality)
How planning applications are decided
When considering an application, the Council must also 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, is viewable on the Council’s website by clicking here. This will take you to a search page that allows searching by various means to find planning applications.
The section for each application contains details about the proposal, along with information on who (at the Council) will handle it and how it will be dealt with (i.e., via the development control committee or by officer delegation).
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 email@example.com (you should include the application number in any emails).
In addition to any local comments, planning applications also go to several other bodies and agencies (such as Environmental Health, High Ways, Network Rail, and the Coal Board), who can also make comments.
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’ set by the government.
Whichever way the application is decided, the case officer will produce a report detailing any comments or representations received and recommend what should happen with the application.
The application is then determined by a senior officer in the case of a delegated application or by the Development Control Committee.
Objecting or supporting an application
If you want to object to a planning application, the links below offer some suggestions on how you can do it:
Friends of the earth – Planning applications: a campaigner’s guide
Woodland Trust – click here.
If you want to support one, the following may be of use :
Applications decided by the Development Control Committee
If the application is to be determined by the development control committee. In that case, you may also want to contact / email committee members 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 (i.e. mine is firstname.lastname@example.org) or click on their name on the list (on the link above) for further details.
Please note, however, that committee members (and substitutes) cannot advise you of whether they support or oppose an application before the meeting because if they do so, they cannot 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 landowners been willing to sell the land to allow the development.
If you have any questions, comments, issues or any additional suggestions for making this page more useful, please let me know – you can view ways to get in touch by clicking here.