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How to object to planning applications

21 December 2016

If you are affected by a planning application you may decide that you wish to object. 

However, objections need to be based on valid supporting reasons if they are to be taken into consideration by the local planning authority. The ‘valid’ reasons are linked to recognised planning principles which are known as ‘material considerations’ in planning language. The available grounds for basing valid objections, depending on the particular impact of a proposed scheme, include matters such as:

 Disturbance from smells.
 Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas.
 Flood risk.
 Impact on public visual amenity (but not the loss of a private individual’s particular view).
 Inadequate access or highways safety.
 Inadequate parking and servicing.
 Inappropriate Layout and density of buildings.
 Loss of ecological habitats.
 Loss of trees.
 Noise and disturbance from the proposed development.
 Overbearing nature of proposal.
 Overlooking or loss of privacy.
 Overshadowing.
 Poor Design and appearance.
 Risk of creating a precedent.
 Traffic generation.

The local planning authority may have adopted local planning policies that will set out the relevant criteria for assessing these issues. It can be very helpful to investigate these policies and relevant national planning policy first to find out whether these might be useful to support the basis for objecting, and if so what criteria or additional evidence could be added to give additional weight to an objection letter. Examples of factors which are considered to be ‘immaterial considerations’ (and therefore not taken into account by the LPA) include:

 Age, health, status, background, work patterns of the objector.
 Alcohol or gaming licences.
 Applicant’s motives.
 Applicant’s personal conduct or history.
 Boundary disputes including encroachment of foundations and gutters.
 Building or structural techniques.
 Capacity of private drains
 Damage to property  Disruption during any construction phase.
 Duration of the work.
 Loss of trade or competitors
 Loss of value to a particular property.
 Loss of a particular view.
 Potential profit for the applicant or from the application.
 Private covenants or agreements.
 Private rights of way
 Private rights to light.

Whether or not a particular issue is a ‘material consideration’ has been decided by the Courts, but it is the responsibility of the local planning authority to decide how much weight (or relative importance) should be given to each issue when weighing up the merits of the application against any harm that might be caused by the proposed development. This can mean there will be differences of opinion and while the local planning authority must pay regard to any valid objections, they may not agree with them, or they might decide to grant a permission while imposing conditions to control the development and to mitigate the issues raised in the objection.

I feel my objection was ignored, what else can I do?

If a planning permission is granted with or without conditions, objectors do not get a right of appeal against the decision to grant the permission.  A right of appeal is only available to the applicant for refusal or non-determination of the application.  The options open to other interested parties to challenge planning decisions are based on the legality of the decision making process through a process known as ‘judicial review’, rather than the particular planning issues. The Government has imposed a very strict time limit in terms of lodging a legal challenge, and in almost every case any challenge must be brought promptly and lodged no later than 6 weeks after the date of the decision and has to be made via an application to the High Court for judicial review of the decision. Unfortunately this type of litigation is usually a time consuming and expensive process and funding the costs can be an issue for many people who disagree with the Local Planning Authority’s decision and want to challenge it, especially when the risk of costs being awarded against the loser of a case is also at stake.

Can I get compensation for the impact of a development on my property from the developer?

Generally speaking the impact on any private rights you may have is not a planning matter but there may be legal remedies available if your legal rights have been infringed, for example if an existing right to light or right of way is being blocked by a new development.  This will involve proving your rights exist and are enforceable against the developer or owner of the development site, and that they have been or will be interfered with sufficiently to cause loss or damage to you. Legal remedies such as obtaining an injunction and/or damages may be available in certain circumstances.

Ellisons have experience in dealing with a variety of planning matters and if you need further advice or assistance in formulating objection letters, or for challenging a decision please contact


Please note this article is produced for general guidance only and does not constitute specific legal advice.