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  • FIRST POST
    steveandel
    Advice on what to include in letter to council opposing planning application
    • #1
    • 3rd Jun 07, 9:50 PM
    Advice on what to include in letter to council opposing planning application 3rd Jun 07 at 9:50 PM
    We have just found out the neighbour across the road has re-applied for planning permission to knock down their 5 bedroom victorian house and build 10 flats. They had previously applied and been refused planning permission but the new plans have been amended, presumably to take into account the council's objections.

    The full new plans will be released for viewing in a couple of days so I'm not aware of the precise details of the development but I do know it is a part 3 storey, part 2 storey, 10 unit apartment block with 10 parking spaces. Obvisouly we are not happy about this at all as it is a quiet, leafy residential street in one of the most popular parts of town. Most of the houses are fairly large established buildings including old victorian houses and newer (but still established) 70's houses. There is one block of flats at the other end of the road but none at our end. We feel that this development would have a hugely detrimental effect on the area, both visually and the increase in cars parked on the road etc as well as significantly affecting the value of our house which is directly opposite it.
    We also know of the developer who is planning the work and are aware of some of his previous projects all of which are distinctly 'modern' in design - out of keeping with the majority of the rest of the road.

    The council has posted a leaflet through the door informing us of the planning application and stating from which date we are able to view the full plans. Also on the leaflet is a section saying the council will not consider any objections based upon the potential visual/local environment effects or the devaluation of local houses. Are the council allowed to do this? Surely they have to consider all objections no matter what the basis of the objection is?
    Can anyone give any advice as to the best course of action for us? Are there any issues we can raise which are more likely to get the council to reject the proposals again?

    Thanks!

    Last edited by Former MSE Natasha; 12-06-2007 at 6:21 PM.
Page 1
    • HugoSP
    • By HugoSP 3rd Jun 07, 10:14 PM
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    HugoSP
    • #2
    • 3rd Jun 07, 10:14 PM
    • #2
    • 3rd Jun 07, 10:14 PM
    Your best approach is to ask the planning officer questions.

    Firstly have a look at the plans.

    Find out the grounds on which it was refused previously, and ask the planners whether there has been a concerted effort to mitigate these this time around.

    Your local council will have a planning policy that it should follow. It may be worth reading the relevent chapters of this and establishing how it fits in or doesn't with that. Any areas of confliction would be good points to raise in any objection.

    If you can establish what type of property is in demand in your area - ie flats or houses, then this may add further weight to your case. For example if there are a shortage of houses and a surplus of flats then raise it.

    In addition the construction should be in keeping with other properties in the area.
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  • PROFESSIONAL LANDLORD
    • #3
    • 4th Jun 07, 1:03 AM
    • #3
    • 4th Jun 07, 1:03 AM
    > There is one block of flats at the other end of the road but none at our end.

    Problem here is a precedent has already been set, I reckon you'll be 'fartin against thunder'.

    I personally think most planners are a waste of space, they will not look after your interests.

    Land prices being what they are, this type of development is becoming more common.
    • Doonhamer
    • By Doonhamer 4th Jun 07, 1:10 PM
    • 469 Posts
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    Doonhamer
    • #4
    • 4th Jun 07, 1:10 PM
    • #4
    • 4th Jun 07, 1:10 PM
    Speak to the council officials, they will usually give you good professional advice and may tell you if they are "minded" to recommend approval to the council comittee.

    Be rational and if you object do so on legitamate planning grounds (I guess that's what they mean in their leaflet). Citizens advice may be able to help. Also speak to your local councillor. Find out the members of the planning committee and lobby them.

    But be prepared to have a fall back position. If it is inevitable that this will go ahead, try and get the plans altered to make it slightly more favourable to you.
    Only Sheep Need A Shepherd
    • phead
    • By phead 4th Jun 07, 1:16 PM
    • 213 Posts
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    phead
    • #5
    • 4th Jun 07, 1:16 PM
    • #5
    • 4th Jun 07, 1:16 PM
    As well as studying the previous application, make sure you look at the local plan for your area and consider the application against it. Also have a look round the web to get a list of valid planning objections, its pointless objecting using reasons that the council cannot take into account (eg property values). If density is increasing then traffic volume is one, check the number of parking spaces in the plan and work out how many they will actually need, so you get parking as another objection. Is there’s a substantial block of Victorian property then altering the character of the area is another objection.

    The most important thing is to get other people to object, you really need several formal separate objections. A petition sent to planning and a copy to everyone on the planning committee is also good.

    In theory an application is only rejected for specific planning reasons, but they will look harder for reasons if there are a lot public objections. Getting together with the neighbours is the best thing you can do.
  • never enough
    • #6
    • 4th Jun 07, 11:45 PM
    • #6
    • 4th Jun 07, 11:45 PM
    You can only object on planning grounds, as previous posters have outlined.

    Funnily enough I was talking to someone about the same thing this afternoon ( I wonder if you live near to them!? ) They have had favourable responses from local councillors (they copied their objection letter to them). The original plan did not include ANY parking provision, the revised plans do, however only 1 space per flat. Given that all are 2 bed flats it's quite likely there will be at least 2 cars per flat. Also, where do visitors, tradesmen & delivery vans park? That will be the basis for their next objection, as parking is a real problem already.
    BTW one of the councillors also chairs the planning committee, which my friend didn't know at the time.
    This appears to be going on more frequently, as well as providing new homes it also brings in extra council tax so don't be surprised if it goes through.
  • mopsey
    • #7
    • 5th Jun 07, 11:58 PM
    • #7
    • 5th Jun 07, 11:58 PM
    I'm afraid if you live in a nice leafy suberban street that has big houses that stand on a nice big plot then you will enevrtably find that blocks of flats will be built on them.
    Blame that nice Mr Prescott.
    And what about the water shortage. Have you had a hosepipe ban this year? No wonder when they're turning 5 bed houses in to 10 2 bed flats. They didn't think of that when they said to build 2 million houses in the South East!!! (apologies if you don't live in the South East.)
    Apologies for the spelling. Its been a good evening. Hic.
    • HugoSP
    • By HugoSP 6th Jun 07, 12:13 AM
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    HugoSP
    • #8
    • 6th Jun 07, 12:13 AM
    • #8
    • 6th Jun 07, 12:13 AM
    There is always a flip side to this type of issue.

    Development of this nature will have a beneficial effect on the OPs property value. His house may be seen as development potential by future developers, who may be competing with private buyers wanting to live in the existing house.
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  • oliverp
    • #9
    • 6th Jun 07, 10:34 PM
    • #9
    • 6th Jun 07, 10:34 PM
    [QUOTE=PROFESSIONAL LANDLORD;5367661]

    I personally think most planners are a waste of space, they will not look after your interests.

    [QUOTE]

    I don't think that is a particularly fair comment...

    1- They aren't planners, they are planning officers. A planner actually draws up plans, a planning officer decides whether these plans are acceptable under the local plan or Local Development Framework.

    2- There is no allowance for anything outside of the local plan or LDF when making decisions

    3- Most large developments will go to committee so councillors will make the decision and it out of the planning officer's hands.
  • Tahiti
    Ultimately (and frankly unfortunately) I think you are very unlikely to be able to stop the development even if several neighbours fight it, unless the current house has some significance. A precedent has been set at the other end of the street, and the planners have to work to their local development plan. In my area for instance, it is very hard to get new build detached houses agreed to as they are actively encouraging the development of "apartments". Your area may be different though.

    I would personally try to ensure that it encroaches the least on you and your neighbours. As has been mentioned above, parking is a huge issue on a block development so ensure that there is adequate parking for the residents and their guests.

    The other thing that would interest me would be the position of the building in relation to the plot, and the landscaping around the plot (it's lighting too, as this could affect you at night).

    Councillors don't want to alienate the voters, and I assume something of this size would have their involvement from an early stage.
    • Woby_Tide
    • By Woby_Tide 7th Jun 07, 9:09 AM
    • 5,197 Posts
    • 1,964 Thanks
    Woby_Tide
    increased traffic, parking spaces, amenity space(i.e. loss of gardens etc.), out of character with area etc etc
  • anotherbigspender
    [QUOTE=oliverp;5394277][QUOTE=PROFESSIONAL LANDLORD;5367661]

    I personally think most planners are a waste of space, they will not look after your interests.


    I don't think that is a particularly fair comment...

    1- They aren't planners, they are planning officers. A planner actually draws up plans, a planning officer decides whether these plans are acceptable under the local plan or Local Development Framework.

    2- There is no allowance for anything outside of the local plan or LDF when making decisions

    3- Most large developments will go to committee so councillors will make the decision and it out of the planning officer's hands.
    Of course you realise that points 2 and 3 of the above are utter tosh.

    On point 2 - You've forgotten about the 'other material considerations' which can be taken into account when determining applications.

    On point 3 - When things go to Committee for a decision, you as a planning officer (I'm assuming that you are) write a report and make a recommendation to the Committee - so its far from out of your hands. If you write a decent enough report that convinces the Councillors of your recommendation then its very much in your hands.

    My 2p

    As to the OP - the majority of the advice above is sound. Make your arguments based on the character of the area, design, impact on amenity etc. Parking, whilst it will do no harm to throw it in to the pot, it unlikely to get you very far nowadays as we are working with maximum rather than minimum parking standards, in an attempt to dissuade people from using cars. :rolleyes:
  • oliverp

    On point 3 - When things go to Committee for a decision, you as a planning officer (I'm assuming that you are) write a report and make a recommendation to the Committee - so its far from out of your hands. If you write a decent enough report that convinces the Councillors of your recommendation then its very much in your hands.
    Originally posted by anotherbigspender
    The report tends to be convincing because it is the right decision and complies with the planning policy but councillors can be swayed by more personal views and problems. For example, a family may represent the objecting side and discuss how they will lose everything they ever worked for because of the effect a development will have on property value and how it will ruin them. A planning officer can't take that into consideration but councillors can.
    • cheekyweegit
    • By cheekyweegit 7th Jun 07, 11:51 PM
    • 1,124 Posts
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    cheekyweegit
    Hiya,

    I'm surprised no one has already mentioned this, but it's just a thought anyway, but it might be worth looking at your deeds and those of the houses in the surrounding neighbourhood and see if there is any restrictions there as to what can and cannot be built on the land.

    Even better if you can get a copy of their deeds and scrutinise them for what they can and can't do. It might just be the case that they cannot build or if they do, it can only be a certain type of house and size with a garden only available for black sheep, as long as you keep no more than 3 at a time with a goat and only if contained within a white picket fence.

    Joking aside check the deeds if you can. Could just be your saving grace.

    Good luck.
  • looby-loo
    Hiya,

    I'm surprised no one has already mentioned this, but it's just a thought anyway, but it might be worth looking at your deeds and those of the houses in the surrounding neighbourhood and see if there is any restrictions there as to what can and cannot be built on the land.

    Even better if you can get a copy of their deeds and scrutinise them for what they can and can't do. It might just be the case that they cannot build or if they do, it can only be a certain type of house and size with a garden only available for black sheep, as long as you keep no more than 3 at a time with a goat and only if contained within a white picket fence.

    Joking aside check the deeds if you can. Could just be your saving grace.

    Good luck.
    Originally posted by cheekyweegit
    That's no joke! You should see my deeds.

    "The house built must be of a cost of no less than £475 (in 1908) and a frontage width of 35' length in bricks and cover a area of ???? square yards ...... no building shall be construced closer than 12' from any boundary.... which ....must have a well trimmed live hedge between 4' and 6' along all boundaries save the entrance for the carriage........Pigs will not be kept in the kitchen.....and not more than 24 fowl in the yard/scullery.......but these to be kept away from contaminating the well........manuare from the horses shall be stored at the north side of the top kitchen garden.... etc..etc..
  • anotherbigspender
    The report tends to be convincing because it is the right decision and complies with the planning policy but councillors can be swayed by more personal views and problems. For example, a family may represent the objecting side and discuss how they will lose everything they ever worked for because of the effect a development will have on property value and how it will ruin them. A planning officer can't take that into consideration but councillors can.
    Originally posted by oliverp
    If the Councillors have been given any sort of decent training then they will know that they can't take these things into account. Any objections they have must be based on planning issues. If I was in a Committee meeting and the discussion went along those lines then I'd be appealing the decision and taking the Council for costs.
    • Debt_Free_Chick
    • By Debt_Free_Chick 8th Jun 07, 9:18 AM
    • 13,149 Posts
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    Debt_Free_Chick
    I personally think most planners are a waste of space, they will not look after your interests.
    by anotherbigspender
    But it's not their role to protect the individual interests of any resident. They are there to implement planning law, the national guidelines and the Local Development Framework. Essentially, they decide on what would be best for the local community as a whole - not just those residents immediately facing or bordering a development.
    • Debt_Free_Chick
    • By Debt_Free_Chick 8th Jun 07, 9:28 AM
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    Debt_Free_Chick
    If the Councillors have been given any sort of decent training then they will know that they can't take these things into account. Any objections they have must be based on planning issues. If I was in a Committee meeting and the discussion went along those lines then I'd be appealing the decision and taking the Council for costs.
    Originally posted by anotherbigspender


    Which is why the Planning Committee (comprising Councillors) rarely goes against the recommendation of the Planning Officer. It's the Planning Officer who has all the detailed knowledge of planning laws etc - Councillors don't. They're just lay-people elected to Public Office.

    For those who don't know the process, have a look at these recommendations made to the planning committee in Rother (East Sussex). In particular, note that the reasons for granting or refusing planning permission are fully described and linked to the LDF e.g.

    "The proposed development is of an appropriate design and will not adversely affect the character of the area or the amenities of adjoining properties and therefore complies with Policy S1 of the East Sussex and Brighton & Hove Structure Plan 1991-2011 and Policy GD1 and HG8 of the Rother District Local Plan"

    Reasons for granting or refusing PP must always be given - and they can be very useful if you want to challenge the decision. My own view is that it's pointless objecting, unless you are prepared to swot up on planning law and the LDF - as if the proposal is in line with the law and the LDF, then the planning authority have no grounds for refusal. If they do refuse without sound grounds, that can be challenged by appeal - which is time consuming and costly for the LPA to defend.
    Last edited by Debt_Free_Chick; 08-06-2007 at 9:31 AM.
    • tangojulie
    • By tangojulie 13th Jun 07, 11:15 AM
    • 91 Posts
    • 99 Thanks
    tangojulie
    Some points I learned when objecting to a planning application locally:

    1. Not all applications go to committee. Some are OK'd by planning officers themselves. You want the application to go to committee, so find out from the local authority what the criteria are. It may be (eg) number of objections, of objections from local organisations, or ....

    2. Objections are counted per letter (or maybe per address they come from) not per signatory. It doesn't matter if everyone sends in identical letters. So provide your neighbours with pro forma letters instead of asking them to add their signatures to yours.

    3. Get the parish council (or similar) onside. They are usually automatically asked about applications and automatically don't object. If you give them reasons to object they may well be happy to do so.

    4. Get your local councillor onside. He may be able to request that the application goes to committee. Also involve any councillors that may have a particular interest, eg one may have a special concern about tree preservation. You can usually get information about councillors from your local authority website.

    5. Make sure that your grounds for objection are 'permitted grounds'. A lot of councils publish details of acceptable grounds for objection - they are all the same as they are set down by law. One set is at http://www.richmond.gov.uk/what_is_a_valid_objection_to_a_planning_applicatio n.

    6. Depersonalise your letter as far as possible, and list and number your points so that they have to be considered separately. Friends of the Earth have some excellent advice and a draft letter at http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/how_tos/cyw_55_planning_applications.pdf.

    7.At the end of the day the councillors will weigh up everyone's interests and do what seems to them to be right. This may go against all the recommendations from specialist departments such as traffic, environment etc if the councillors nevertheless believe that that's what they should do. If this happens you are pretty much stuck with it. You could go for judicial review, but it's costly, and even if you 'win' at a review, the courts only have the power to tell the council to reconsider. They can't tell them to reach a different decision. So in practice you have just one shot at objecting - it's worth trying your best to make it effective.

    Good luck!
  • harryhound
    Old restrictive covenants
    That's no joke! You should see my deeds.

    "The house built must be of a cost of no less than £475 (in 1908) and a frontage width of 35' length in bricks and cover a area of ???? square yards ...... no building shall be construced closer than 12' from any boundary.... which ....must have a well trimmed live hedge between 4' and 6' along all boundaries save the entrance for the carriage........Pigs will not be kept in the kitchen.....and not more than 24 fowl in the yard/scullery.......but these to be kept away from contaminating the well........manuare from the horses shall be stored at the north side of the top kitchen garden.... etc..etc..
    Originally posted by looby-loo
    This tosh is presumably for the benefit of the remaining land belonging to the lord of the manor, when he sold off the building plot ? However is there anybody left who has the power to enforce it. (I recently had a similar problem with a "building line" and the requirements to get plans checked by some long gone firm of surveyors/estate agent at a cost of 5 GBP)

    If the restrictive covenant is an "Estate" covenant for the benefit of an estate of houses created at the same sort of time, it can be very useful in resisting over development, so it is worth doing a bit of research.

    Personally I would like a system where these old restrictions are all recorded in detail at the Land Registry and the parcels of land that benefit from them are required to renew them at a cost of say 250 GBP every 12 years (same as squatters rights) to be allowed to keep them in force.

    Harry.

    PS
    You can sometimes break a covenant and take a risk or insure against someone coming out of the woodwork trying to enforce some funny old restriction, before they loose their chance to do so.
    Last edited by harryhound; 13-06-2007 at 5:28 PM.
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