Overdevelopment in Planning Objections

One of the key issues when preparing a planning objection can be overdevelopment.  This concern is not just a buzzwords; it’s a crucial consideration that can make or break a planning application and you should, if applicable, analyse if this issue applies to your planning objection and should be included in your objection letter. Read below to learn about overdevelopment issues in planning objections.

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Planning Objections and Overdevelopment

According to the Planning Portal, overdevelopment can refer to the ‘amount of development (for example, the quantity of buildings or intensity of use) that is excessive in terms of demands on infrastructure and services’, or ‘ impact on local amenity and character’.

For example, in a densely populated area, particularly in a low-rise suburb, this often means an extension that’s bigger and taller than anything in the wider area. Extending a house could also significantly reduce the available garden space, leading to a loss of ‘amenity space’ – a term planners use to describe for example, the functional and recreational space surrounding a property. Planners evaluate whether a proposed extension constitutes overdevelopment by assessing the balance between the built structure and the remaining garden space.

Overdevelopment can also mean an application that attempts to cram several buildings into a small plot. For larger developments, this can mean attempting to increase the density of the site above recommended levels.

The density of any proposed development should maintain the prevailing character of the immediate area and when this is not the case, it can result in a refusal of planning permission if “demonstrable harm” is caused to the character or amenity of the area. Although it is not usually sufficient reason on its own, overdevelopment can lead to issues of traffic, overlooking, overbearing and character and is therefore an important consideration in the planning process.

Density

A strict arithmetic compliance does not necessarily mean that a proposal will be acceptable as a number of criteria are used to assess the suitability of a scheme, including; size, shape and topography of site form of layout spacing between buildings building form and design amenity and privacy access and parking retention of trees and shrubs

For example, higher densities will be favorably considered on central sites in or near the Town Centres and within larger Village Centers which have a range of facilities and good access to public transport.

For planning purposes, density assessment are usually made on the basis of both the number of dwellings and the number of habitable rooms per hectare. However, the plot ratio (gross floorspace to site area) should also be used for more dense urban sites.

  • High densities are usually those between 173 – 247 + habitable rooms per hectare, 49 – 74 dwellings per hectare or > 0.5 : 1 + plot ratio.
  • Medium densities are usually those between 100 – 173 habitable rooms per hectare, 25 – 50 dwellings per hectare or 0.2 – 0.5 : 1 plot ratio.
  • Low densities are usually those < 100 habitable rooms per hectare, < 25 dwellings per hectare < 0.2 : 1 plot ratio.

Here are some pieces of information you can have a look at when preparing your objection letter on overdevelopment:

  • accessibility measures such as distances and travel times to key facilities, including public transport stops or hubs (and taking into consideration service capacity and frequencies and destinations served). A range of tools are available to support such assessments.
  • characterisation studies and design strategies, dealing with issues such as urban form, historic character, building typologies, prevailing sunlight and daylight levels, green infrastructure and amenity space;
  • environmental and infrastructure assessments, such as the capacity of services and presence of environmental risks (e.g. flood risks or overheating), and the opportunities to address these; and
  • assessments of market or site viability.

Example

The issues of overdevelopment were covered in a 2019 planning appeal in Evesham for the erection of one dwelling which was dismissed due to the impact of what was considered to be overdevelopment in the character and appearance of the surrounding area.

Here the appeal site formed part of the curtilage of a detached dwelling located at the end of a cul-de-sac in an residential area of Evesham. The area comprised a mix of property types including detached and semi-detached properties characterised by having front gardens and private driveways. The appeal site had a large triangular garden to the side of the existing property, and the proposal was for the construction of a new dwelling within this side garden.  The host property would retain a reduced rear garden, and the proposed dwelling would have a small rear triangular garden with the majority of outdoor space being limited to the side of the dwelling.

The Inspector found that the proposed dwelling would be in close proximity to the existing property on the site. Given the site’s triangular shape, the proposal would appear cramped with very small separation distances between the existing dwelling and the site boundaries. The small rear garden and rear amenity space at the side of the property would further lead to a feeling of overdevelopment on this parcel of land. This would be to the visual detriment to the street scene thereby causing unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of the area. The appeal was dismissed.

Crafting Your Planning Objection Letter

When it comes to objecting to a planning application that you believe results in overdevelopment, it’s essential to articulate your concerns clearly. Reference specific aspects of the proposed design that lead to a detrimental impact in the surrounding character, overlooking or how the extension might reduce the amenity space disproportionately. Ground your objections in the context of local planning policies and previous decisions, making a well-reasoned case.

In summary, understanding the intricacies of overdevelopment is vital when engaging with the UK’s planning system. If you are objecting to a new development, being aware of these factors can guide you in making informed decisions and crafting an effective planning objection letter.

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