How to comment on Planning Applications

How to comment on Planning Applications

The Parish Council is often asked how residents can most effectively comment on/object to planning applications. You may find the following helpful as a general guide but please note that it should not be relied on, or taken to be a full interpretation of the law.

Individual comments

Every registered voter in the parish may comment on any planning application in the parish. Each individual comment (known as a Letter of Representation) is counted. For example, a household of two registered voters may send two individual Letters of Representation and each one is counted as a separate comment. If you feel strongly about an application, every voter in your household can comment and each one will be counted separately.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has a useful guide to responding to Planning Applications that can be downloaded here.

Set out the reasons for your comments

  • Your letter or e-mail should state clearly the points you wish to make about an application. You can support a planning application as well as object to it.
  • If you wish to object to a proposal, you should set out the reasons for your objection with reference to the items in the list of ‘Valid Reasons for Comment below. The most effective objections are those which demonstrate the harm that will be caused.
  • Stick to planning matters and don’t refer to non-planning issues as these will undermine your case.
  • Set out any conditions which you would like to see imposed should an application be approved. Conditions need to be included in the approval notice for a planning application if they are to be legally binding and this does not weaken any objections you have
  • Remember that all comments submitted are open to public view – Tewkesbury Borough Council usually redacts any names and other personal details from comments so your privacy in making comments is assured

Valid reasons for comment

Comments that are clear, concise and accurate stand more chance of being accepted than those that are not. When planning applications are considered, the following matters can all be relevant. These are sometimes referred to as ‘material planning considerations’:

  • Central government policy and guidance – Acts, Circulars, Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) etc.
  • Adopted supplementary guidance – for example. village design statements, conservation area appraisals, car parking standards.
  • Replies from statutory and non-statutory agencies (e.g. Environment Agency, Highways Authority).
  • Representations from others – neighbours, amenity groups and other interested parties so long as they relate to land use matters.
  • Effects on an area – this includes the character of an area, availability of infrastructure, density, over-development, layout, position, design and external appearance of buildings and landscaping
  • The need to safeguard valuable resources such as good farmland or mineral reserves.
  • Highway safety issues – such as traffic generation, road capacity, means of access, visibility, car parking and effects on pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Public services – such as drainage and water supply
  • Public proposals for using the same land
  • Effects on individual buildings – such as overlooking, loss of light, overshadowing, visual intrusion, noise, disturbance and smell.
  • Effects on a specially designated area or building – such as green belt, conservation areas, listed buildings, ancient monuments and areas of special scientific interest.
  • Effects on existing tree cover and hedgerows.
  • Nature conservation interests – such as protection of badgers, great crested newts etc.
  • Public rights of way – more information on these is available from the Countryside Team
  • Flooding or pollution.
  • Planning history of the site – including existing permissions and appeal decisions.
  • A desire to retain or promote certain uses – such as playing fields, village shops and pubs.
  • Need for the development – such as a petrol station
  • Prevention of crime and disorder
  • Presence of a hazardous substance directly associated with a development
  • Human Rights Act
  • Precedent – but only where it can be shown there would be a real danger that a proposal would inevitably lead to other inappropriate development (for example, isolated housing in the countryside)

Irrelevant reasons for an objection

There are certain matters which do not amount to ‘material planning considerations’ under current legislation and guidance. These matters cannot be taken into account in considering a planning application and should not be included in objections as they weaken your case:

  • The identity of the applicant or occupant
  • Unfair competition
  • Boundary disputes
  • Breach of covenants and personal property rights, including rights of way
  • Loss of a private view
  • Devaluation of property
  • Other financial matters
  • Matters controlled by other legislation – such as internal space standards for dwellings or fire prevention
  • Religious or moral issues – such as betting shops and amusement arcades
  • The fact that the applicant does not own the land to which the application relates
  • The fact that an objector is a tenant of land where the development is proposed
  • The fact that the development has already been carried out and the applicant is seeking to regularise the situation. People can carry out development at their own risk before getting planning permission)
  • The developer’s motives, record or reputation

Other Matters

The person making a planning application has to provide enough information for the application to be determined. They do not have to provide every single detail before an application can be approved because certain matters can be resolved by way of conditions included as part of the permission.

Because of this, certain issues may not be considered as ‘objections’ but it is entirely reasonable for you to raise concerns on such issues and to ask to be kept informed before they are approved. These include:

  • The proposed type and colour of the materials to be used
  • The exact nature of any proposed planting or boundary treatment

Getting support for your position

If there is widespread objection or support for a proposal, individual letters are more effective than a petition or a circular letter. This suggests people are properly concerned.

If there are other groups who oppose the application, it may pay to pool resources. This is especially so with major development and it may be worthwhile forming an action group.

Contact your local Borough councillor and let them know what you think. For Dumbleton Parish, the Borough Councillors are:

Mel Gore: councillor.gore@tewkesbury.gov.uk | 07970 429832

John Evetts: councillor.evetts@tewkesbury.gov.uk | 07799 035873

On matters to be decided by the Development Control Committee, consider other forms of publicity for the application. Use the media, especially the local press. Making an issue out of an application is likely to make the Committee more aware of your point of view.

On matters to be decided by the Development Control Committee, read the officer’s report to Committee. Ask for any mistakes to be corrected before a decision is taken.
You may attend the Committee meeting and may speak for or against a proposal