Guide to commenting on planning applications

What sort of things can be taken into account?

In considering a planning application, the council has a statutory duty to have regard to the provisions of the Local Plan and any other "material considerations". The most common "material considerations" include the following, although this list is not exhaustive.

  • local, strategic, regional and national planning policies
  • government circulars, orders and statutory instruments
  • previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
  • design, visual appearance, and materials
  • layout and density of buildings
  • loss of daylight or sunlight
  • overshadowing/loss of outlook (but not loss of view)
  • overlooking/loss of privacy
  • noise and disturbance from use
  • smells
  • light pollution
  • highway safety issues
  • traffic generation
  • parking
  • loss of important trees
  • landscaping
  • nature conservation
  • intrusion into the Open Countryside/ Green Belt
  • risk of flooding
  • effect on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
  • archaeology
  • hazardous materials and ground contamination
  • disabled persons access.

What cannot be taken into account?

Many concerns cannot be addressed through the planning process, these include:

  • loss of view
  • loss of property value
  • private issues between neighbours e.g. land/boundary disputes, damage to property, private rights of way, covenants etc.
  • breach of restrictive covenant
  • competition or loss of trade to a competitor
  • personal circumstances of the applicant (in most cases)
  • moral objections e.g. to uses such as amusement arcades and betting offices
  • matters controlled under Building Regulations or other non-planning laws, e.g. structural stability, drainage, fire precautions etc.
  • problems arising from the construction period of any works, e.g. noise, dust, construction vehicles, hours of work etc.
  • the development is already completed
  • party wall issues.

We will not consider comments which are:

  • offensive statements that lower a person's reputation personally or within their trade, profession or business.
  • racist statements are those that discriminate against individuals on racial grounds including their race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins.
  • comments that discriminate on grounds of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability will also not be published or considered.
  • anonymous comments will also not be considered.

How does the council decide a planning application?

After the 21 day consultation period has passed the case officer should have all the information needed to assess the application.

Every planning application is considered and determined having regard to national policy, the relevant Local Plan, supplementary planning documents, and any other material considerations.

Will my views be considered?

The council is legally obliged to take into account the representations received from neighbours and other interested parties when deciding all planning applications. Furthermore, the council encourages local residents to have their say in planning matters. However, it is important to remember that the council is responsible for making the final decision on the application and for deciding how much "weight" representations have.

What will happen after my objections have been made?

Due to the large number of responses the council receives, it is not possible to respond personally to each letter.

Your representation will be considered by the planning officer dealing with the application and this may lead to the officer contacting the applicant and suggesting amendments to the scheme.

If major changes are made, we will let people know who have commented and will normally give a further 14 days for additional comments to be made.
When applications are decided by a planning committee all comments received are summarised in the officer's report which is published five days prior to the planning committee. This report can be viewed on the council's Committee Management Information System. You will be advised of the date, time and location of the committee should you wish to attend.  Anyone who made comments will be notified of the decision.

Will the application be refused if lots of objections are received?

No, the volume of objections will not in itself result in an application being refused. An application can only be refused for 'planning reasons' and not because of the number of objections.

Who makes the final decision on the application?

All applications not dealt with by planning committee are delegated and determined by the Development Management Manager. Approximately 90% of applications fall into this category.

However, when a local councillor requests it or if a development is of a certain nature/size, applications will be determined by a Planning Committee, who meet monthly to decide applications.

In the rare instances that a large application goes against the policies set out in the Local Plan, the matter will then be referred to the Government who will decide whether the council should be allowed to decide the application.

How can my local councillor help?

A local councillor can request that an application be reported to Planning Committee, if they have a justified planning policy related reason. This means it will be debated in public at a Planning Committee meeting.

Objectors and supporters are eligible to speak at planning committee however, please note that each group identified shall be entitled to speak for a period of up to five minutes. The time limit will not be extended unless a specific extension of time is agreed by the chairman.

If I don't agree with the Council's decision can I appeal?

As the law stands there is no right of appeal for objectors. In certain circumstance a council's decision can be challenged in the courts, if there is a concern that the council has acted unlawfully.