Planning Objections and The Planning Process: A Guide on Timings and Procedures
The planning application process is a complex mechanism that plays a critical role in shaping the future of communities. From skyscrapers that redefine city skylines to small housing developments that cater to growing populations, each planning application carries the potential for transformative change. For residents and stakeholders, understanding this process, particularly the timings and procedures involved in planning objections, is crucial. This blog aims to shed light on the planning application determination process, offering insights into how planning objections fit into this intricate framework.
The Planning Application Determination Process: A Timeline
Initial Submission and Validation
Once a planning application is submitted, the local planning authority validates it to ensure it meets specific criteria, such as accompanying documents and application fees. This is often completed within a week or two.
Consultation Period and Public Comments
Once a planning application has been submitted, there will be a consultation period during which interested parties can submit their comments and objections. Check the local planning authority’s website or contact them directly to find out the specific deadline for submitting objections. Ensure that your objection is submitted within the designated timeframe (21 days) to be considered.
Evaluation by Planning Officers
After the consultation period, planning officer will evaluate the planning application, taking into account all comments and objections received. The planning officer will review the technical information submitted such as environmental impact, traffic, and noise pollution. These reports often influence the final decision and are available for public review, providing crucial information for anyone considering lodging a planning objection. The planning officer will also assess the proposed development against planning policies and regulations, considering factors such as design, impact on neighbouring properties, and compliance with local guidelines. Planning officers may also conduct site visits to better understand the potential impact.
Planning Committee or Officer Decision
After the consultation period and assessments, the application is either decided by the planning committee or a planning officer, depending on the local procedures and the scale of the application. This stage typically occurs between eight to thirteen weeks from the validation date for minor applications, and up to sixteen weeks for major ones.
Once a decision is made, there is a ‘cooling-off’ period, usually lasting six weeks, during which the decision can be challenged via judicial review. However, this is a complex and costly process and is generally a last resort.
If a planning application is refused, the applicant has the right to appeal, typically within six months for householder applications and up to a year for others. During the appeal process, previously submitted planning objections are considered, but new objections are usually not accepted.
The Role of Planning Objections
Planning objections are a vital part of the public consultation stage. They serve as formal channels through which residents and stakeholders can express their concerns or opposition to a planning application. It’s essential to note that the window for submitting planning objections is limited, generally aligning with the public consultation period. Late submissions are rarely considered.
How to Submit a Planning Objection
Most local planning authorities allow planning objections to be submitted online, via email, or through traditional mail. The objection should be clear, concise, and based on material planning considerations such as environmental concerns, traffic impact, or social factors.
The planning application determination process is a structured yet flexible framework designed to balance various interests—economic, social, and environmental. Within this structure, planning objections offer a democratic avenue for public engagement. However, the effectiveness of these objections is significantly influenced by the timing of their submission and their alignment with the various stages of the planning application process.
Understanding the planning application determination process’s intricacies—especially its timings and procedures—enables residents and stakeholders to engage more effectively, making their voices heard when it matters most. Whether you are an applicant seeking to navigate the labyrinthine approval process or a resident keen on preserving your community’s unique character, knowledge of this process is your most valuable asset. Therefore, it pays to be informed, timely, and proactive when participating in the complex yet crucial world of planning applications and objections.