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PLEASE help me write a letter of objection to my local Planning Department....

(18 Posts)
NomDePlume Wed 16-Mar-05 11:15:36

Had a letter through from the City Council this morning, informing me of a proposed outline planning application to build a business park in the lovely green field directly behind my house.

Obviously I don't want this permission to be granted as it will ruin the views to the rear of my house, will reduce the desirability and therefore saleability of my house and possibly even reduce it's value (not good news when we hope to sell in the nearish future).

I live on the very outskirts of a modern purpose built estate, one of the main reasons we chose this house over all the others on this estate we saw, was for the open rear aspect.

There has been a small business development just across the road from me (although I cannot see it from my house) for about 2ish years. This has brought no end of traffic & parking problems to the area. Basically the designers of these marvellous all singing, all dancing modern office blocks didn't factor in nearly enough parking (less than a 1/3 of what was needed). As a result the employees are parking their vehicles on our residential streets, blocking driveways and generally making life awkward for residents. I can forsee this proposed new development adding to the problem. As well as the usual problems, such as heavier traffic in a residential area, increased noise levels etc etc.

Please can you help me formulate a reasoned, clear letter of objection ?

TIA
NDP
xxx

Mothernature Wed 16-Mar-05 11:19:06

Anyone is entitled to object to any planning application. Equally you may lend your support.

Every planning application is considered and determined having regard to the Development Plan and any other material considerations. The Development Plan includes National and Regional Planning Guidance, the County Structure Plan or Unitary Development Plan, Local Plans and any supplementary planning guidance.

You may have a social, political, environmental or purely personal concern about a particular development proposal, but to be effective any objection or supporting statements must focus upon the 'planning merits' of the case. These would include the relevant planning policies applicable to the property and area concerned, as well as consideration of such matters as the impact of the scheme upon the local environment, highways issues, nature conservation, flood risk and many more detailed issues. Each application is unique and this section cannot cover every proposal. However, the principles outlined below should establish the framework for making purposeful representations to planning proposals.

Set out below is a checklist that should help you assess the need to object and how to make an objection. The same principles apply to lending your support to an application.

1. SHOULD I OBJECT?
You may have received a letter from your Council notifying you of a nearby development proposal, spotted an application notification posted on the site or in the local paper, or even been asked to join an action group. Maybe your neighbour has let you know he is making a planning application. What should you do?
Clearly, if you are not concerned about the proposal there is no need to do anything. But it is worth giving some momentary thought to the matter. The proposal on its own might not be objectionable but will it set a precedent?
If your reaction is one of concern take a moment to stand back and think about your reasoning. The fact you do not like your neighbour is insufficient to justify an objection.
To stand a chance of being taken seriously by the Council any objection or support must be rational, impersonal and directed principally to the planning issues raised by the proposal.

2. THE PROCEDURE
When a planning application is submitted it is processed by the planning department within a set procedure. Applications are usually dealt with within 8 weeks of submission, but delays do occur for a variety of reasons.
Once the application is accepted as valid by the Council a series of consultation letters are sent out to a range of Statutory Consultees (such as the Highways Department, Environmental Health, English Heritage etc) which vary depending upon the individual proposal. These consultees are required to respond within 21 days with their comments on the application.
The local Parish Council will be notified and they will consider the application at one of their regular meetings. They will formally respond giving their views on the application and stating whether they approve or object.
Local Authorities also carry out public consultation. The way in which this is undertaken varies considerably between Councils. Some require the applicant to post a public notice on the site for a period of 21 days, or place an advert in the local paper. Others use their public address database to select addresses local to the application site for notification by letter. Increasingly weekly planning application lists are published on Council websites.
Public participation in planning is increasingly sought by the Government and modern technology will assist further in ensuring you are aware of what is happening in your area. The actual procedure for your Council is established in their Standing Orders.

3. ESTABLISH THE FACTS
All too often objections are submitted which are based on an incorrect understanding of the application. The first step must be to inspect the application and understand it. You may review the application at your Councils' planning department. Each application is allocated a discrete planning reference number - it may look something like this x/x/2003/12345/FUL. If you know the number, then ask for the application details by reference to that number. Otherwise make sure you have the address of the property.
You will be allowed to inspect the application forms, plans, drawings and other information submitted by the applicant. You may not be allowed to view the responses from consultees or other objectors, as these are not usually made public until after the application is determined. However the planning department will outline the areas of objection and support in their report to the planning committee.

Consider the application carefully. You can usually discuss the application with a Duty Planning Officer so that any technical details can be better appreciated. You can make notes and may also be able to purchase copies of the application (but probably not any plans as these will be copyright).

Review the Local Plan policy. The Council will have copies of their Local Plan available either to view or purchase. This may take a bit of reading but will almost certainly contain policies that have a bearing upon the application. Do they support or deter the proposal? You may wish to refer to relevant policies in your letter of objection / support.

Check the planning history of the property. This may be going a bit far for most domestic applications, but sometimes the property may have been subject to prior refusals/ approvals that will have a bearing upon the matter.

4. JAW JAW NOT WAR WAR!
Can your objections or concerns be resolved by simply discussing the application with the applicant. This might be your neighbour and you need to remember that you will have to continue living next to them in the future. Many concerns relate to overlooking or blocking out of light from a proposed extension. Will obscured glazing or a change in roof design resolve the problem? Think how the application may be modified or improved before you confirm your objections. Maybe your encouragement to a revised design could be beneficial in the long run.

5. MAKING YOUR OBJECTION / SUPPORTING STATEMENT
You've considered the application, reviewed the options and still wish to make representations. Next step is to write down your concerns / supporting points and send them to the Council Planning Department. There is usually a Case Officer or Area Group allocated to deal with the application, but if you cannot discover the exact person then just send your letter to the Planning Department. Always try and include the Planning Reference Number and location of the property.

Set out your comments logically and in a straightforward manner. Personal comments about the applicant are rarely helpful and imply the objection is personal rather than based upon the planning issues.

Keep it brief. Long or rambling commentary is unhelpful. Why not use sub-headings to illustrate each point. If you wish to include other information then you can do so. Photographs are often helpful to illustrate to the Council your particular concerns.

If there is a particular matter that you believe requires the Planning Officer inspecting personally, from your property, then ask him to make a visit. You will need to make yourself available during normal office hours for such a visit onto your private property.

You will usually be asked to make your objection within the 21-day consultation period established at the outset of the planning application. However, you can submit objections / supporting statements right up to the moment the application is considered. The later you leave it the less chance there is of the Council really giving your comments due consideration.

Putting your comments in writing is far better than simply telephoning the Council. Always remember to keep a copy for your records.

6. MONITOR THE APPLICATION
Larger applications may take some time to determine. It is worthwhile asking your Council if they can keep you informed of progress. Once you are logged as an objector / supporter most Council’s today will notify you of any alterations. Any significant changes to an application may have to be re-advertised and sent out for revised consultation.

Check to see how the application will be handled. There is an increasing trend toward the use of Officers Delegated Powers, where the application is determined by the Officers, rather than going to a full planning committee.

If the application is to be heard at a planning committee you are entitled to inspect a copy of the Officers Report to Committee. This is usually available 3/4 days prior to the committee and sets out the Planning Departments full consideration of the various planning matters, including a discussion of any objections / supporting statements.

7. ATTENDING THE PLANNING COMMITTEE
You are entitled to attend any planning committee meeting to hear the applications being considered by the Council. Committees are usually held on a monthly basis, but may be more frequent depending upon the Council workload. Committee dates are usually posted in the Council Offices and can be checked with the Council's Committee Clerks Department or the planning department.

The committee agenda will indicate when the application will be considered during the meeting, but often the 'batting order' is altered, at the Chairman's discretion, to bring forward applications where there are significant levels of public interest. This is to avoid people having to wait all evening to hear a particular application.

Increasingly the public is being allowed to speak at committee meetings and each Council adopts their own procedure for this. In most cases you will need to notify the Council in advance of your intention to speak. Check with the Planning Department or Committee Clerks office about the procedure adopted in your particular Council.

The Chairman will invite those who have registered to speak to address the committee from a suitable position in the Council Chamber. Two or three minutes are common time periods allowed for individual public address to the committee and are strictly controlled. This is not long and therefore it is a good idea to read a pre-prepared (and timed) statement or have a series of bullet points to make sure you remember all the points you wish to make. Here again, keep your comments simple, keep them to the point and avoid personal jibes. The committee is only interested in the planning merits of your comments and how they relate to the application. You may even be prevented from speaking if you just use the opportunity for making political or personal statements, make personal comments about the applicant or you lose your temper.

If you are representing other people you should ensure you have their permission for you to speak on their behalf. This may be requested by the committee to prove you have other people's permission.

In my experience as a planning consultant the most effective objector is always the cool, calm and collected representative of personal or local opinion, who has done their homework and presents a logical planning case against (or for) the proposal under consideration.

If you do not wish to speak yourself you can arrange for someone to do this on your behalf, but this must be made clear to the committee. Group objections / supporters wishing to say much the same thing are generally encouraged to group their comments together with one or two speakers only, but you may be able to negotiate more time per speech as a result. This should be discussed with the Clerks office or planning officer well before the committee date.

The applicant or his agent will also be allowed to speak and will usually be given the chance to address the committee last so that any points raised by other speakers can be reviewed and commented upon. Sometimes matters are considered 'in camera' ie without public access, but this is increasingly uncommon.

SUMMARY

Investigate the application and associated planning policy
Consider helpful amendments / modifications
Consider discussing the application to resolve problems
Write down and send your concerns to the Council as soon as possible
Monitor the application
Attend the committee to hear the decision
Consider addressing the committee
Keep all comments to the point, impersonal and related to the planning issues
Make sure you have other people's permission to speak on their behalf
NEXT STEPS
If the application is approved then this may be the end of the matter, although if you consider the Council acted in a manner that did not conform with established procedures then you might consider a complaint to the Ombudsman.

If the application is refused the applicant may go to appeal. You will then need to repeat the process at an appeal. Do not assume your objections will automatically be represented at this stage. You will need to object / support again. To consider this situation in more detail, go to appeals.


Hope this help

NomDePlume Wed 16-Mar-05 11:21:57

Blimey !

Mothernature Wed 16-Mar-05 11:23:17

well you did ask

NomDePlume Wed 16-Mar-05 11:30:16

Looks like I'll have to go and have a look at exactly what the plans entail. Do I have to go down to the council offices ?

gingerbear Wed 16-Mar-05 11:30:37

NDP. I did this last year (successfully!!)
I found a great deal of help from the Neighbours From Hell website.

Unfortunately the reasons you gave are NOT justifiable reasons in terms of planning permission!! I know I was flabbergasted that loss of a view or value of my house would not even be considered when the proposal was considered by the planning dept.

I am at work now (OK, I know I shouldn't be mumsnetting....) - when I get home I will dig out my objection letter and contact you again later. In the meantime, do have a look at the website. It helped me loads.

Oh, yes, and if you can get your neighbours to put in objection letters too (not a petition - it won't be considered as seperate objections) then that will force the planning decision to be made by a committee (public allowed) rather than one planning officer.
NFH website

gingerbear Wed 16-Mar-05 11:31:41

your local library will have the plans - there should be a planning ref no. on the letter or notice (usually on a lampost somewhere?)

LIZS Wed 16-Mar-05 11:35:05

We've just sent an objection for a development of 10 houses to be accessed via our close - nowawaiting decision. Highlighted concerns based upon increased traffic and thence safety aspect for the children who currently live and play there, inadequate provision for parking which would mean more awkward parking on the road, also a safety issue, and increased noise.

Perhaps you could also cite potential anti- social noise, if for example there is a delivery depot or warehouse among those units where lorries might to and fro at night or early in the morning, and loss of open, green areas.

iota Wed 16-Mar-05 11:36:15

NDP - this link is to Northamptons guidelines - I know it's not your area but it lists relevant and irrelevant reasons to object

nothamptoncc

LIZS Wed 16-Mar-05 11:37:05

btw we were able to view the related documents and plans on-line, where I am now tracking it, but also the full details were due to be displayed at a local Help Shop a few days after the letter was sent.

gingerbear Wed 16-Mar-05 11:42:52

Parking, increased traffic and noise ARE all legitimate issues btw.
Find out if the land is greenbelt or restricted development area too. There will be loads of restrictions if that is the case. (Look up planning on your councils website?)

NomDePlume Wed 16-Mar-05 11:44:45

these are great . Thanks to you all. I;ve git the planning number on the letter, so I'll go and have a look at what is being propsed in detail. Although to be honest, I'm not really sure what I'm looking at/for.

Thankfullly my neighbours are all equally as vehement about this PA, so they'll be submitting objections too.

Gingerbear, could you CAT me with the objection letter please ? That would be a real help.

NomDePlume Wed 16-Mar-05 11:45:15

Sorry, my typing is shocking at the moment

gingerbear Wed 16-Mar-05 11:48:25

No problem, I will CAT you now, then email stuff from home this evening.

NomDePlume Wed 16-Mar-05 11:49:10

Thank you.

gingerbear Wed 16-Mar-05 19:02:36

no email from mumsnet yet NDP. Can you wait until tomorrow?
I have to scan the letter (I deleted it from my PC for some reason!) Will send asap I promise.

gingerbear Fri 18-Mar-05 04:58:24

have emailed you with the stuff.

tatt Fri 18-Mar-05 06:20:21

loss of amenity is a legitimate planning concern although I'm not really sure what "amenity" is meant to cover. Might include noise. Look for things like where the windows are and how close to your house, how many parking spaces are provided, whether the council development plan had that field designated for business use.

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