Here is some practical advice on how to comment on a planning application.
WILL THE COUNCIL TELL ME ABOUT LOCAL PLANNING APPLICATIONS?
If a neighbour plans a change to their property, be it a small extension or a major redevelopment, the Council will write to you, giving you 21 days to comment.
Only adjoining residents are written to directly. In addition, there should be a notice displayed to the public, typically at the entrance or affixed to a tree or lamp post. The bush telegraph usually ensures that most people in the vicinity soon become aware of potential developments.
INSPECT THE PLANS
Anyone can comment on a planning application. You can inspect the application form, plans and design statements by using the planning search facility on the council website.
DISCUSS THE APPLICATION
Hopefully, the neighbour making the application will have discussed it with you beforehand, and taken account of your issues. It is always worth telling your neighbour what your concerns are - what is a problem, and what is satisfactory to you.
Suggest steps the applicant might take to modify the plans, so they may be more acceptable to you. You can also contact the Planning Officer to discuss any issues, and if relevant, invite him/her to come onto your property, so as to view the potential development from your perspective.
CHECKLIST OF OBJECTIONS
What sort of comments can you make? Use your own words, and clearly state what sort of problems you forsee with the application. The following is a brief checklist of some of the issues that might arise:
Determine if the proposal conflicts with any of the Council's planning policies (you can see these at the Council's offices or on the website). Review also the Council's relevant supplementary guidance and leaflets, and see if the proposals are in conformity.
Is the appearance and bulk or size of the new building / extension generally in keeping with its neighbours and the surrounding area.
Whether adjoining residents will suffer any unreasonable overshadowing, overlooking or loss of privacy.
Are any external alterations to an existing building in character.
Is the proposed use a suitable one for the area.
Will there will be any unreasonable increase in general disturbance, for example from the comings and goings of extra traffic.
Is there is any visual effect upon the landscape such as loss of trees.
Whether new roadways, accesses and parking will be safe for road users and pedestrians.
Will a public footpath be affected.
Do new public buildings have satisfactory access for the disabled.
Whether, for an application for an advertisement, the proposed sign is too large or unsightly.
Unfortunately, the Government has in recent years changed National Planning Policy in relation to parking. In most circumstances, there is no longer a requirement to provide a minimum level of off-road parking for new developments. Bizarrely, there IS now a maximum, which falls far below the average levels of car ownership in our area.
Items NOT Material in Planning Considerations
Some things are not material planning considerations. The most important are:
Property value - The impact on the value of neighbouring properties is not a consideration
Civil disputes - For example, potential damage to party walls from new development, disputed boundaries. Some civil matters may prevent a scheme from being built, but they will not prevent it getting planning permission
Items Material in Planning Considerations
The following items are material to all planning application. They include:
Density - The number of houses to the hectare - a Government imposed minimum is mostly 30 per ha
Size of development - Height and footprint of the proposed buildings
Relationship of proposed buildings to immediate surroundings (Closeness to other buildings, windows overlooking existing houses, dominating other houses.
Appearance - Design and materials used
Visual amenity - Would the street scene look better or worse?
Character - The character of the area
Roads - Road safety and the impact on traffic
Landscaping and open space provision
Trees - Existing trees which have Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)
Flood risk and drainage
Parking - Car parking provision (a Government imposed maximum is around 1.5 per dwelling).
Infrastructure - Existing infrastructure
Access - Suitability of proposed access roads (width and visibility)
Impact on wildlife - Special rules apply where protected species such as badgers, bats or great crested newts live on or near the site.
Rights of way - Existing public rights of way
Air quaility - Existing noise levels and air pollution
Special circumstances - Such as listed buildings, green belt or countryside location, proximity of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Conservation Areas (conservation of heritage not wildlife).