Dealing with planning objections

05/05/2015

Planning ObjectionsWhen you’re planning some form of building work on your home, such as extensions, garage conversions or even a new build, it’s an exciting but stressful time. You can have all the plans together to create your dream home, have that extra room for a new baby or adapt your home to a change in life style, however, if planning consent is required then there’s always the risk of planning objections.

First things first, do you need to obtain planning consent? Not all extensions such as loft conversions, garage conversions, outbuildings, conservatories and porches require planning permission. To find out if what you’re planning does, go to the Planning Portal for guidance.

If you receive planning objections, then how you deal with them will depend on a variety of different factors, such as the nature of the objections, the number of objections, the ambitiousness of your project, your relationships with your neighbours and also who you are, your personality

I’d like to give you my view on dealing with planning objections, but it’s just a view. If you search the web you’ll find other views too, so if you are in this situation, I would urge you to do some research and find a route that you’re comfortable with.

Prevention is better than cure
The first step to dealing with planning objections is to try to avoid them altogether. This will save you both time and money. The best way to do this is to communicate openly with your neighbours while you’re in the planning stage. If you’re planning a lot of renovations or looking at building extensions that could affect your next door neighbour, go and see them and find out if they will take issue with any of your plans.

When you visit your neighbours you may find that your plans will be blocking out a view, or invading their privacy, which could give them cause to object. It‘s far better to find this out before you submit the planning application, giving both you and your building contractors time to redraw the plans.

It’s also common courtesy to discuss the plans with your neighbours and they will appreciate your openness, making them more likely to be supportive. Damaging relations with your neighbours can turn your dream home into a living nightmare, as you could be living next to these people for many years to come.

However, although this is what I’d advise you to do, it might not work. Sometimes, despite being open and upfront with your neighbours, the first you hear of an objection is when they formally object to your planning application. The important thing here is to stay calm. Maybe they didn’t feel confident enough to talk to you directly and this option was open to them, so they took it…

Planning objections will slow the process as the planning committee has to review them, however, many objections are not justified and will be dismissed straight away. You can consult your local authority for the full list of reasons to object, but they tend to include reasons such as infringing on a neighbour’s privacy or designing a building out of step with the local character. A neighbour not liking you or worrying about their own house price will not get very far if there is no real cause to object.

As planning is very much in the hands of the local authority, you have to go to them to find out about the planning regulations and the planning procedure. Once the planning authority has received your planning application and initially approved it, other agencies such as the Highways Department and Environmental Health will be informed if it is deemed relevant. The Parish Council will also be informed and any neighbours that the local authority thinks will be affected.

If a justified objection comes in then this is the time to start finding out every detail about the local planning regulations. You may need assistance with this to find out if there is any way that you can still get your plans put forward.

The local authorities may hold a public meeting about your plans, it’s important that you attend so you can have your say. If you’re certain that your plans don’t go against local planning regulations then you need to voice this with evidence in the meeting. Don’t forget to inform the council beforehand that you intend to speak, so they will allocate you a slot in the agenda.

If your plans are objected to and it looks like they’re justified and likely to be rejected, don’t take it personally, even if you suspect that it is a personal attack. Find out who has objected and try to open up communication with them.

Remember that you want to get your home conversions completed as quickly and as cheaply as possible and repeated planning applications and objections are not the way to go about this. Stay calm and find out what the person doesn’t like about the plans and see if you can find a way to change the plans to avoid further objections and keep the peace.

It can be very disappointing, but work with your building contractors to create something that abides by the regulations and is close to what you want.

Dealing with objections can be time consuming, stressful and expensive, so stay rational and ensure that you stick within the rules and work closely with your neighbours and planning authorities to minimise the risk of further objections.

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