Making objections

Making objections

Planning committees can’t reject applications without good reasons and legally speaking, some reasons are no good. If you’re objecting, spend your time on reasons the committee can use. You don’t have to use technical or legal language to object, but there’s no point in talking about things the committee can’t even consider.

Various councils have web-pages about this; click here for Brent’s and here for Barnet’s. They include these as relevant or valid reasons (in no particular order)

  • Loss of light or privacy
  • Scale, number and size of buildings
  • Design and appearance
  • Whether that sort of use is appropriate for the area
  • Highways and transport matters such as
    • Traffic levels
    • Traffic safety, including for pedestrians
    • Parking
    • Access
    • Public transport
  • Noise, dust, smells and other pollution (except during construction – the council can impose conditions but they can’t reject an application because construction would be noisy or dusty)
  • Loss of trees, effects on nature conservation in general
  • Effects on listed buildings or conservation areas
  • Risk of crime
  • Conflict with national or local government plans and policies.

They also list some of the reasons they can’t take into account. These can be surprising, and might even include the reasons you care.

  • Property values
  • Construction nuisance
  • Worries about foundations, sewerage, fire precautions and other things that are dealt with by building regulations
  • Loss of a particular view from your home or office – but loss of visual amenity can be considered
  • The morality of the proposed use (e.g. gambling, alcohol)
  • The applicant’s morals and character
  • Competition between businesses or loss of trade
  • and more…. see Brent’s list or Barnet’s.

Looking at Barnet Council’s planning decisions, we see they’ve turned down applications because of

  • overdevelopment that wouldn’t provide satisfactory living conditions for future occupants
  • loss of a family house, damaging the local character
  • size, siting, bulk and design out of character
  • detrimental to the character and appearnce of the streetscene and wider locality
  • noise and disturbance, loss of residential and visual amenity
  • size, footprint, massing and width … overdevelopment, unduly obtrusive and detrimental
  • would appear overbearing and result in loss of outlook
  • amenity areas too small, inadequate for future occupiers
  • height, massing, siting, scale and density … overdevelopment … detrimental
  • inadequate parking, harmful impact on highway safety and free flow
  • does not provide the maximum viable amount of affordable housing
  • inadequate outdoor amenity and play space, no contribution to off-site amenity and play space either
  • no undertaking re carbon off-setting or zero CO2 emissions
  • size, scale and design
  • size and siting … overbearing appearance … loss of privacy.

Of course, you don’t have to use these technical terms to make an effective objection. You can focus on making, in your own words, a strong objection that the committee can and should listen to.

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