House drawn in 3D

How to Object to a Planning Application

Objecting to a planning application is always recommended if you feel displeased with new proposed developments in your area. It requires a solid preparation and prompt action. You only have a limited amount of time to work with, and depending on the situation, you might not get a secoand chance to revise and amend your objection if it's not successful the first time.

Identify the problem

First, you need to identify a valid reason to object the planning application. Your local planning authority will only recognize specific reasons in this context. For example, you might be concerned with preserving a historic site. Or you might feel that your life quality will be degraded in some way by the new construction project.

Generally, you can't rely on reasons related to property values. Your local authority will likely have rejected the application in the first place if they were concerned about that factor. You have to build your case around issues that will objectively affect you in the immediate term and not down the road.

Pollution is another good reason to object planning applications. It doesn't have to be specifically air pollution either - if you can prove that the new development will raise noise levels above acceptable values, this is a valid argument.

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Don't delay

There are very strict time constraints involved in objecting proposed development. By default, you only have 21 days to make your objection to the local authorities. The deadline may be extended in specific circumstances, but you should not count on that.

Three weeks might seem like a lot of time, but those days will go by faster than you might expect once you start gathering your facts, talking to people, and contacting authorities for additional information. You should account for bureaucratic delays.

Focus on the relevant facts, keep emotions out

Keep your objection as focused as possible. Only refer to relevant facts, preferably ones you can prove with hard evidence. Under no circumstances should you try to involve emotions in your objection. Planning officers will not care about factors like a developer with a shady reputation.

If you personally disagree with the type of business that is being constructed, that's also irrelevant to your application. Even if you manage to get others to join you in your objection, you won't get far if your entire argument is based on personal views.

It's a good idea to read up on local planning permission regulations. This can sometimes provide you with surprising insights and can lead you to solutions you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

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Round up support

If you can get other people to join your cause, this can strengthen your position and make it more likely that you will successfully object the planning application. Talk to your neighbours and see if anyone else feels as strongly as you do about the proposed development.

Make sure to get the contact details of anyone interested in aiding you. You will have to put a lot of effort into organizing everyone once you've gathered their details, so you should do your best to simplify that process from the start.

Remember that additional support will only make a difference if people are willing to join your cause in writing. You might get lots of positive responses initially, but things will change once people realize they need to sign their own names. Don't be surprised if more than half of your initial contacts drop out at this point.

This makes it important to be as thorough as possible and contact anyone who might have any legitimate objections that the planning committee will find relevant.

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Prepare a letter

Once you've got all your details and support lined up, it's time to prepare an official letter to the planning committee. This is best done by a professional. There is a specific tone that you should maintain in this kind of communication. Your argument must also be written in a concise, easily scannable way that immediately identifies your core concerns.

Some planning applications can be very difficult to challenge. It's important to make a solid first impression. Remember, you usually only get one shot at this. If you miss any important details or don't write the letter in the way that the committee expects, this will lower your chances drastically.

In some cases your objection might lead to negotiations. This doesn't happen for all planning applications. Sometimes the committee might decide to just cancel their approval outright. But be prepared to enter a phase where you will go back and forth with the other party in an attempt to reach a reasonable middle ground.

Just because someone has successfully obtained planning permission for their project doesn't mean the story is over. You still have a good chance of filing a successful objection. However, you must act quickly and reach out to the planning department as soon as you've gathered all the relevant facts. Using professional assistance is recommended if you want to ensure your communication will flow smoothly.

Clara Annesley

Writing about construction, Interior design and renovation.