UK: Objecting to a Planning Application

Last Updated: 27 September 1999


This note explains what you can do if a third party makes a planning application to develop land near your property which you consider will affect your property.

Preliminary Points

You may become aware of the submission of the planning application only by accident. This is quite often the case. The Local Planning Authority ('the LPA') will advertise its receipt of a planning application either by notifying neighbours or by putting up a notice on or near the site. In certain cases applications are also advertised in a local newspaper. The LPA will also consult certain organisations, such as the Highway Authority and the Parish Council.

All planning applications are lodged on the Planning Register at the Council's offices so that they can be inspected. The Planning Charter Standards state that the LPA should put copies of valid applications on the Register within 3 working days of receiving them.

The first step therefore is to attend the offices of the LPA and examine the lodged copy of the planning application, its plans and any supporting documents. You will be able to take a copy of the documents (subject to any plans which are protected by copyright) on the payment of reasonable copying charges.

If you want to object to the proposals contained in the application

You may consider, having looked at the application and plans, that you do not have enough information to enable you to take an informed view about the effect of the proposed development on your property.

If this is the case you should nevertheless submit a holding objection to the LPA. All representations on submitted applications must be made to the LPA within 21 days of the date of public notification by way of site notice, or within 14 days of the date of a newspaper advertisement. You should therefore write to the Chief Planner at the LPA and explain that you consider that the proposed development will affect your property but that you need further information either from the LPA or from the applicant in order that you can reasonably judge the effect of the proposal on your property. You should then ask either the LPA or the applicant for all the additional information you require.

You may, in some cases, be faced with enough information for you to see clearly that the proposed development will be detrimental to your property. Again you should object by writing directly to the Chief Planning Officer at the LPA setting out in as much detail as possible your reasons (see 4 below) for objecting to the proposed development.

The LPA should, as required in the Planning Charter Standards, make sure that you know what the arrangements are for you to comment on development proposals, how you can obtain further information from the Council and how your comments will be treated.

On what grounds can I justifiably object to a planning application?

The LPA have to have sound 'land use planning grounds' on which to refuse an application. The LPA must rely on the Local Plan in reaching its decision unless there are material reasons why a departure from the policies in the Local Plan is justified.

You can ask to see a copy of the Local Plan. It will also contain other useful information. It should be read in conjunction with the Structure Plan (produced by the County Council) which again can be examined at the offices of the LPA. Professional advice may be required on the effect of the policies in the Local and Structure Plans on the application.

The sort of objections which are valid in land use planning terms are, for instance, problems with traffic if the development goes ahead, the effect a development might have on the environment, the effect it might have on the amenities in the area (landscape, noise, general appearance).

The personal circumstances of the objector are not generally land use planning grounds and therefore this is an issue which the LPA may properly discount.

What happens next?

The LPA has 8 weeks from the date of registration of a valid planning application in which to determine the application. This means it has 8 weeks in which to advertise the application, receive and consider responses to the application and to present a report to Members of the Council with recommendations as to whether the application for planning permission should be refused, granted subject to conditions or granted unconditionally.

The LPA will assign a case officer to deal with the application. He will receive your letter of objection and will consider it in the light of the application and other representations.

It is important that you put as full a case as possible to the LPA with detailed and technically sound objections. It is also important that you make sure that the case officer supplies Members of the Planning Committee, who are the decision makers, with a copy of your case. It may, depending on the type, size and impact of the proposed development, be necessary for you to instruct expert advisers to deal, for example, with traffic impact, planning policies, environmental issues or noise. You may need to instruct lawyers where the issues are complex, the development large and the impact on your property potentially great, in order that a thorough examination of the application, its supporting documentation and the issues is undertaken. You may be given an opportunity to present your case orally before the Planning Committee and you may require assistance with this.

Where it seems likely that planning permission will be granted you can seek to minimise the effect of the development on your property by suggesting to the LPA that conditions are attached to the planning permission they propose to issue. You should suggest the sort of conditions which you feel might protect you, for instance, that there be no trading before 9 am or after 8 p.m. This is an area on which professional advice should be sought as the LPA are only able to apply conditions which meet certain statutory tests. Nevertheless conditions could significantly protect your property.

The decision

The Members of the LPA meet in committee to discuss the application. You are statutorily entitled to see a copy of the case officer's report on the application 3 clear days before the date of the committee meeting. You should therefore be sure that you know when the committee are to meet and that you obtain a copy of the report.

Minor applications can be dealt with by case officers under delegated powers without the need for the application to be considered by Members. You should ask the case officer to let you have a copy of his case report before he makes his decision in these circumstances. Where you know the application is to be dealt with under delegated powers and you feel that your objections would receive more sympathy if the application were put to Members, you should seek the support of your Local Ward Member in requiring the matter to brought before Members sitting in committee. Again this is an area where you may feel that professional support is beneficial.

Once the decision is taken, the LPA will issue a decision notice.

What to do if the decision is not what you wanted

If you feel that either the Members, or officers, acted unfairly or unreasonably you should seek legal advice quickly. Legal action in these cases must be taken swiftly and any delay may mean that you loose your rights to seek to prevent the unwelcome development from taking place.

Should you require any further information or specific advice, please contact Andrew Jackson or Eliza O'Toole.

This note provides a general outline of this subject. Each case requires specialist advice depending upon its own particular circumstances and no responsibility can be accepted for the application of the principles contained in this note unless we have given such advice.

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