How to Comment

This is a guide to how you can comment on planning applications.

This includes information about what criteria the planners take into account when deciding the outcome of an application. Remember, petitions and identikit letters carry less weight than an individual letter or personal comment on the council’s online planning website.

Objecting to a Planning Application

If the London Borough of Barnet (LBB) serve a notice on you that a planning application has been made affecting you or your property, somewhere on the letter there will be a planning reference number and a date by when any objection has to be received. You need to reply to the planning officer by the due date, giving the planning reference number and including your own name and address. As you are commenting on something the Council has asked you about your views will be important. Copying the letter you write to your local councillor(s) may help.

You can email your concerns (or express your support) on any planning application and we give some guidance below. You can write a formal letter or comment directly on the LBB website. To do this go to select a project, click on the ‘make a comment’ box and follow the instructions to make an on-line comment; this will be posted on the application site.

We do not provide a standard letter as the Council view ‘identikit letters’ as a single objection: therefore, please take time to think about the issues that concern you and express your opinion clearly in your own way. On any one case the more letters that are sent the better, so ask your friends that might be affected by the development to write as well. What we give is a guide as to the issues considered valid (Material Planning Considerations) and those which are not (Non-material Considerations).

The following items are considered Material Planning Considerations and will be taken into account:

Over-development – or overcrowding of the site

  • Negative / adverse visual impact of the development – particularly on the landscape and / or the locality
  • Detrimental effect of proposed development on the character of the area

Design Issues – including inappropriate design

  • Bulk and Masssing
  • Detailing and Materials
  • Local design guidance and / or policy ignored
  • Over-bearing / out-of-scale or out-of-character in terms of appearance
  • Capacity of physical infrastructure – e.g. drainage and water systems
  • Deficiencies in social facilities e.g. space in schools, doctor’s surgeries etc
  • Consideration of disability requirements

Negative effects on your Amenity – neighbours and community particularly due to…

  • Noise
  • Disturbance
  • Overlooking & loss of privacy
  • Nuisance
  • Shading / loss of daylight
  • Smells and fumes
  • Fear of Crime (with supporting evidence)

Highway Safety – ideally supported by technical evidence

  • Traffic generation, vehicular access and highway safety
  • Disturbance resulting from the proposed use
  • Road access

Landscape Issues

  • Loss or effect on trees
  • Adverse impact on nature conservation & biodiversity opportunities
  • Inadequate or inappropriate landscaping or means of enclosure

Conservation Areas – adverse effect on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area or heritage assets within it

  • Detrimental effect on a conservation area
  • The effect of the development on the setting of a listed building
  • Archaeology
  • Solar Panels

Legal Planning Issues

  • Circulars, orders, statutory instruments, guidance and advice
  • Previous Appeal decisions
  • Principles of Case Law held through the courts
  • Local Plans, neighbourhood plans and other legislation
The following items are considered Non-material Planning Considerations
and will not be taken into account
  • The applicant’s ethnic origin, religious beliefs, their sexual orientation, political or other affiliations
  • The attitude or behaviour of the applicant or their representatives
  • Matters related to past infractions, such as previous nuisance caused by the applicant or site occupiers
  • The applicant’s personal circumstances, or other private matters or the reason that the applicant is applying for planning permission
  • Any profit likely to be made and the effect on the value of properties in the area – particularly your own
  • Loss of view
  • The effect of construction – i.e. noise, dust and nuisance, and the like caused by construction traffic
  • Worries or hearsay about possible future expansion or alternative uses of the application site – unless such plans are included in the documentation
  • Boundary disputes or other unresolved civil disputes (unless specifically related to the planning proposal)
  • Matters controlled by Building Regulations and other non-planning legislation
  • Objection to the principle of development that has been established by Outline Planning Permission

And finally…

There are no particular reasons you have to cite as your objection – whatever bothers you most about the proposal is what you can write about. Your letter should be as personal and as factual as possible. Please don’t simply copy and paste these lists into your objection correspondence – this really won’t help your case! Always be polite if you communicate with the Council – if, in your opinion, the thought of an unsuitable development will drive you mad, presenting your views in an articulate way is wise. Planning officers have to process lots of information for consideration by the Planning Committee, who must make a decision in accordance with the current planning legislation. Of course the Council may decide to grant Planning Permission. If the scheme is refused the applicant may go to Appeal – in which case the letter you have written will be forwarded to the Inspector hearing the Appeal.

Planning is a complicated process so if in doubt ask an MHPS committee member for help.

Prepared by the MHPS Planning Group – April 2018
Sources: The Planning Objection Company 2017
Planning Aid England – Communities and Local Government 2016
Barnet – A guide on how to comment on a planning application 2013
Article by Ian Roberts – 7th February 2013

Mill Hill Preservation Society