If you want to object to a Local Council about a planning application the way is to write to the Planning Department, either by post or email. You should always quote the planning application number and send the letter to the official council address shown on any applications.

Your objection will have so much more effect if a number of people write in to object, however do not be tempted to organise a petition; it won’t carry any weight and will probably be a waste of time. Please also avoid using any ‘standard’ letters – you should use your own words and write the letter yourself.

Objections will not carry the same weight if they’re seen to have been written or produced in a standardised form.

Remember that councils always request comments within a time limit which is usually within 21 days of notification, however they should take into account any representations received before the application is actually determined. So it’s never to late to send in your objection – but best advice is to do it as early as possible.

You can say whatever you want about a planning application, however the Council won’t publish or use anything which they think is libellous, racist or offensive. There’s no point in putting things in your letter which are not relevant to planning, because by law the Council can only take into account the planning issues and not be influenced by outside factors.

Concentrate on the aspects of the development which are likely to be unacceptable in terms of their visual impact, effect on the character of a neighbourhood, possible noise and disturbance, overlooking and loss of privacy. The likely effect of the development on the residential amenity of neighbours is clearly an important consideration.

There is generally no point mentioning about impact on house and land values.

Also, any concerns about road safety may be raised, however any objections based on road safety fears are unlikely to carry any weight unless it is also the independent view of the Council’s own highway engineers.

In summary, the following are the grounds on which planning permission is most likely to be refused (non-exhaustive) –

• Adverse effect on the residential amenity of neighbours, by reason of (among other factors) noise*, disturbance*, overlooking, loss of privacy, overshadowing, etc. [*but note that this does not include noise or disturbance arising from the actual execution of the works, which will not be taken into account]
• Unacceptably high density / overdevelopment of the site, especially if it involves loss of garden land or the open aspect of the neighbourhood (so-called ‘garden grabbing’)
• Visual impact of the development
• Effect of the development on the character of the neighbourhood
• Design (including bulk and massing, detailing and materials, if these form part of the application)
• The proposed development is over-bearing, out-of-scale or out of character in terms of its appearance compared with existing development in the vicinity
• The loss of existing views from neighbouring properties would adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbouring owners
• If in a Conservation Area, adverse effect of the development on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area
• If near a Listed Building, adverse effect of the development on the setting of the Listed Building.
• The development would adversely affect highway safety or the convenience of road users (but only if there is technical evidence to back up such a claim).

These points, on the other hand, will not be taken into account in deciding on the acceptability of the development in planning terms –

• The precise identity of the applicant;
• The racial or ethnic origin of the applicant, their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political views or affiliations or any other personal attributes;
• The reasons or motives of the applicant in applying for planning permission (for example if the development is thought to be purely speculative);
• Any profit likely to be made by the applicant;
• The behaviour of the applicant;
• Nuisance or annoyance previously caused by the applicant [unless this relates to an existing development for which retrospective permission is being sought];
• Concerns about possible future development of the site (as distinct from the actual development which is currently being proposed);
• Any effect on the value of neighbouring properties.