- Objecting to Planning Applications Explained
Partner Karen Jones, in our Planning & Environmental law team, explains the process for objecting to planning applications.
You will never please everyone and this sentiment is particularly true in respect of proposed development. You are able to submit representations on planning applications whether a proposed development is minor or major. Objections should always be planning based. Despite guidance on local authority websites, the planning portal and other third party websites objections continue to be made which carry little to no weight in terms of determining a planning application.
A local planning authority must determine planning applications in line with the Development Plan unless there are material planning considerations that indicate planning permission should not be granted. The Development Plan is made up of Local Plans (including Core Strategies and Supplementary Planning Documents) and Neighbourhood Plans and the London Plan (if development is in London). Material considerations are ones that are relevant to making the planning decision in question.
But what are material planning considerations?
- These will always include guidance such as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – This is Government published planning policy and guidance. The NPPF was revised earlier in 2018 (an overview of the changes can be viewed here).
- They may often include other matters such as:
- Overlooking and/or loss of privacy - your local planning authority will likely have planning policies which are intended to protect the amenity of neighbouring properties. These may include requiring new development to be a certain distance from boundaries or to prevent windows looking directly in to a neighbouring property. These are material planning considerations and if you can relate your concerns back to a specific policy or document your objection will have more weight. You can even request conditions to protect your property or interests for example to prevent overlooking.
- Impact on trees – if the proposed development will result in damage or removal of significant trees, particularly those which are protected by a Tree Preservation Order this will be a material consideration for the local planning authority.
- Noise from proposed use – the sound of machinery and vehicles which are part of the construction process are not considered material planning considerations which carry sufficient weight to prevent development as they will be temporary. They will be relevant when a local planning authority is deciding on what conditions to impose to control development. Concerns about noise during construction of the development may result in the local planning authority imposing conditions to control:
- The hours of construction
- The submission and implementation of a construction management plan or other appropriate noise mitigation measures
- Noise resulting from use of the completed development will also be a material consideration. Examples include where property is in a solely residential area and a development is proposed for a noise generating use such as a nightclub a few doors down or a factory on a piece of land neighbouring property. The noise impacts of these types of development would be a material planning consideration. In the latter example, the resultant smell or odour of a factory use could also be a material planning consideration.
- Design of the development – bulk, mass, materials and scale of the development are all material planning considerations. Is the development in keeping with the character of the area? Are the proposed new dwellings of a similar scale to the neighbouring properties? Again, the local planning authority may have policies within its Development Plan which provide guidance as to what would and would not be acceptable.
- Highway safety – development whether it is business, residential or otherwise can have an impact on the highway. Particular considerations include traffic generation (whether there will be an increased amount of traffic resulting from the development which the existing infrastructure is unsuitable for, access to the development (whether the access would be safe or affect the existing road) and parking (does the development provide on-site parking, is it sufficient for the use and scale of the development?). Consultation on proposed developments takes place with the relevant Highways Authorities for their comments and any plans will be scrutinised by those with the relevant expertise. Unless there is strong contrary evidence objections based on highway safety may carry little weight where the Highways Authority has confirmed that in its view any impacts are acceptable and/or can be satisfactorily mitigated.
The above is not an exhaustive list and where you have concerns about a proposed development you should seek advice or speak with your local planning authority.
The law makes a clear distinction between whether something is a material consideration and the weight to be given to that material consideration. The courts will decide if a matter is a material planning consideration but will leave the weight to be given to that material consideration to the decision maker. Persuading the decision maker of the relevance and importance of a material consideration is therefore key to a successful objection.
What are not material planning considerations?
Devaluation of property – The fact that a domestic property is likely to be a large capital investment is of no relevance in planning terms. Loss of value to property is not a material planning consideration and therefore will not be taken into account by the local planning authority.
Loss of view – there is no right to a beautiful view from property. The existing position will not be of relevance even if a proposed development is going to disrupt that view. Loss of view is not a material planning consideration. If however you can frame an objection on a wider basis, such as the negative impact a development will have on a designated conservation area or area of outstanding natural beauty then this would be a material planning consideration and would have to be taken into account
Rights of way and private covenants – these are private property matters and not material planning considerations. If a development will impact a right of way or contravenes a covenant that is known to exist you should seek legal advice as to how to protect your position.
Boundary disputes – you are able to submit planning applications over property that you do not own personally. Accordingly boundary disputes and land ownership issues are not relevant material planning considerations. Again, if you are concerned about private property matters you should seek legal advice.
Your objection to a proposed development will carry more weight if you are able to link your objections to planning policy (whether local or national) and if you can demonstrate or provide reasons why the development will contravene that policy. It will also be important to identify the material planning considerations applying and formulate arguments to persuade the Local Planning Authority that those material planning considerations carry sufficient weight to justify a refusal of permission or suitable conditions to be imposed to protect a neighbouring property.
This blog article was produced with support from Kayleigh Chapman.
This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.