In April 2016 (at the earliest that’s about three weeks away), Circle Housing will most probably submit a planning application for the Ravensbury Garages site, so we thought you should know how to respond. This is what could be described as Regen by the Back Door – effectively subverting the strict process of the main regen assessment.
A little bit of googling produces gems such as Martin Goodall’s Planning Law Blog :
His article states:
“Your objection will have more effect if a number of people write in to object, but do not be tempted to organise a petition; it will not carry any weight and is a waste of time. Also avoid using a ‘standard’ letter. Objectors should use their own words and write, type or word process their letters themselves. Objections will not carry the same weight if they are seen to have been written or produced in a standardised form.”
“…the effect of the development on the character of the neighbourhood has always been, and remains, a factor which may lead to the refusal of planning permission, so you should not hesitate to raise issues of density and possible overdevelopment of the site as well as the adverse impact which the proposed development might have on the character of the neighbourhood or on the residential amenity of neighbours.”
“Design (including bulk and massing, detailing and materials, if these form part of the application) is nowadays recognised as an important factor in the acceptability of a development proposal. If you think the development looks ugly, then you should say so, especially if it is over-bearing, out-of-scale or out of character in terms of its appearance compared with existing development in the vicinity.”
“One point which is controversial is the relevance in planning terms of the loss of a view. It is often said that “there is no right to a view”. Whilst that is correct in strictly legal terms, it does not mean that the loss of a view is necessarily irrelevant to planning. The enjoyment of a view could be an important part of the residential amenity of a neighbouring property, and its loss might therefore have an adverse impact on the residential amenity of that property. Loss of a view from a public viewpoint might also have a wider impact on a neighbourhood, and such matters ought to be taken into account where they are raised.”
“To summarise, the following are the grounds on which planning permission is most likely to be refused (although this list is not intended to be definitive) :
• 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].”
This is interesting too:
It used to be a lot easier than it is now to approach councillors about pending planning applications. Revised local government legislation and the nationally imposed Code of Conduct which councillors now have to follow have made them much more cautious about being lobbied. For that reason, attempts to persuade individual councillors to support your cause in relation to a particular planning application are likely to be rebuffed, and in some cases a councillor who has been lobbied may even feel that they have to refrain from taking part in the decision solely for that reason. There has recently been some relaxation of the code of conduct in the future but, you should continue to be cautious about lobbying councillors.
As a general rule, the only safe way of ‘lobbying’ councillors is to write an identical letter to all members of the planning committee (or the sub-committee which is going to determine the application), and make it clear in the text of the letter that this is a letter which is being written to all the members. You cannot be sure that the councillors will actually read the letter or take any notice of it, but you will at least have communicated your views direct to councillors, rather than having them ‘filtered’ or summarised by officers in their committee report.
Don’t waste time writing to your Member of Parliament. Even if he or she is persuaded to write in on behalf of constituents, the views expressed will carry no greater weight than those of any other objector. An MP has no authority or influence over the Council, and certainly cannot arbitrate or mediate in planning matters or act as some sort of appeal tribunal.”