Submission of an Objection

The best way to submit an objection is not by letter or online comment, but directly by email to the Case Officer for the application, who can usually be found on the same webpage that contains the planning application details. Your email should be copied to the Head of Planning and Development Control, Adrian Fisher (adrianf@highpeak.gov.uk) and your local councillor.

It is also worth emailing your objection to all members of the Development Control Committee (DCC) as this increases the chance that members will actually see and read it. All the information to do this is on the Council website, both the names of the current committee members and their email addresses – but not in the same place! For their email addresses you have to go to the full council list. Each time you email the DCC you need to check its current membership as it is subject to fairly frequent change.

Gaining the support of a Councillor

You should recruit your local councillor to speak in your support, against the proposal, at the DCC meeting that considers the application. Unlike other members of the public, there is no time limit on how long a councillor can speak. If your councillor is actually a member of the DCC or happens to be standing in for someone at the relevant meeting, then they may feel they are in a difficult position to speak for you. In this case, find another, neighbouring councillor who is prepared to support you at the meeting. A councillor is a busy person (if they are doing their job) so they will appreciate a briefing on what you consider to be the principal grounds for refusing the application.

The Consultation Period

Under ‘Application Details’ for a particular application you will find an ‘official’ three week consultation period set for the application. It is best but not essential to submit you objection before the closing date of this period. In fact the Planning Department will accept and consider objections right up to the Friday before the Monday on which the application is heard although it doesn’t broadcast the fact.

Tactically, the best course of action is to submit your objection to the planning department before the end of the official consultation period and to the DCC members on, say, the Thursday before their meeting. In that way, it is still fresh in their minds when they meet.

What to say?

There are two kinds of reasons for opposing an application. Your objection may contain one or the other or both. Both is best. But for clarity it is important to keep them separate.

Material Grounds for Objection

The first kind are ‘material grounds’. These are based on policies in various statutory documents. The Authority will be very unhappy to refuse an application unless it feels it has adequate reasons of this kind for doing so.Therefore they are the only kind that are going to make much of an impression on a planning officer. If you can come up with some that she’s missed [as has happened] then she will be very impressed. If the proposed development is going to affect you personally, these reasons may include objections motivated by self-interest but they have to be grounded on current planning policies.

Relevant statutory documents accessible from http://www.highpeak.gov.uk/planning/ are:

  1. High Peak Saved Local Plan Policies
  2. certain Local Development Framework (LDF) documents called Adopted Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD’s)
  3. the Derbyshire Structure Plan
  4. various government Planning Policy Guidance documents [PPG’s] and Planning Policy Statements (PPS’s – go to http://www.highpeak.gov.uk/planning/policyguidance/)

Political Grounds for Objection

The second kind are what one might term ‘political grounds’ and are general principles such as, ‘No more countryside should be surrendered to residential development; more than enough of our heritage has been sacrificed already’. They are expressions of your own opinions. It is important that the DCC members are aware of these. It is political pressure and although it may only minimally affect a particular decision, councillors grow slowly more restive in colluding with decisions predetermined by the planning department which go against the wishes of the electorate.

A Word on Style

Keep it simple and direct. Sound confident about the position you are taking. Don’t make diffident, tentative, conditional or convoluted statements. Remember that you are in an adversarial position with respect to the applicant.

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