Community Engagement

Once a planning application has been validated, a period of consultation is undertaken.  This is when the Local Planning Authority (LPA) notifies a range of people that a planning application has been formally submitted to the Council.  The formal consultation process will normally last 21 days and will include these publicity requirements:
Anyone can comment on a planning application. Written comments will be considered when the LPA decides on the application if the points raised are relevant. On larger or more complex applications, a range of statutory consultees will be notified. Statutory consultees are experts that provide advice on specific elements of the planning application. These include:

Commenting on an Application

The easiest way to find out about ongoing planning applications in your local area is to visit your LPA’s website. You will be able to look at weekly or monthly lists of planning applications that have been validated.

Comments on planning applications can be submitted via the LPA’s website, and these will need to set out the material considerations

 that you would like the planning officer to consider. A material consideration is a matter that should be considered when deciding on a planning application.

Material considerations can include (but are not limited to):

  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Parking
  • Highway safety
  • Traffic
  • Noise
  • Effect on listed building and conservation area
  • Layout and density of building
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Government policy
  • Proposals in the Development Plan
  • Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
  • Nature conservation

However, issues such as the negative effect on the value of properties, construction noise or third-party wall issues are not material considerations as they fall under other types of legislation, not planning.

Most planning applications must be processed within 8 weeks. This is extended to 13 weeks for major projects. Members of the public have 21 calendar days from the date the application is advertised to respond. LPA’s can decide to consider late responses, but you should not rely on this happening.

Generally, the earlier you make your submission the more likely it is to have some impact; and make sure you keep track of the consultation dates, so you do not miss the deadline.

Objecting to a development

There are a few ways to share your thoughts on a new development. Many people will write a planning objection letter and contact their local councillors. Here are some tips on how to do both effectively:

A planning objection letter should:

  • Be properly referenced with the right planning application number from the LPA’s website
  • Include references to the LPA’s local plan policy, London Plan policy and national government policy to support your arguments
  • Short - It can be tempting to throw the kitchen sink at letters of objection but choosing three key planning arguments is the most effective way to put your objection across

Contacting your local councillors:

  • Use the basis of a planning objection letter to let your local councillors know why you are objecting to the development
  • Contact councillors via social media and email
  • Try and get other residents to join you in sharing their objections – this could be your neighbours in the area, a Resident’s Association or a community group

How are planning applications determined?

Following the consultation period and site visit the case officer will assess all the information and comments gathered and then write a recommendation report on whether to: approve, approve subject to conditions, or refuse the application. This report will then be passed to a senior council officer who will decide on behalf of the Councillors.  This process is known as a delegated authority. Almost 90 percent of planning applications are determined by delegated authority

More complex planning applications will be determined directly by Councillors via a Planning Committee.   If you have submitted comments in support or objection of an application that is going to be determined by Committee, you may receive written confirmation of the committee date and an invite to speak at the planning committee.

All committee agendas are posted on the committee pages of the LPA’s website approximately 5 days before the committee is held, and the agendas will be accompanied by the officer’s report setting out the LPA’s recommendation. If you would like to address the committee then you will need to contact the committee clerk and provide your details so that you can be formally registered to speak on that application. In most local authorities you will be limited to a maximum of three minutes talk time, so do make sure that you use the officers report to help set out your key points

Planning applications considered by the Mayor of London

An application can be considered by the Mayor but only if it meets the criteria set out in the Mayor of London Order (2008). The criteria includes:

The Mayor has six weeks to provide comments on the application, assessing whether it complies with the London Plan policies. This is a consultation response known as stage one.

The application is then considered by the LPA at its planning committee, where they will decide whether to grant or refuse permission.

Following the planning committee consideration, the LPA is then required to refer the application to the Mayor for his final decision, known as a Stage 2 referral. The Mayor has 14 days to decide whether to allow the LPA’s decision to stand, to direct refusal, or to take over the application, thus becoming the LPA (known as “Call-in”).

The Mayor reviews all the comments received by the LPA as a part of the referral process, meaning any comments submitted to the planning application will be considered by both the local council and the Mayor as a part of the decision-making process on large applications.

Do remember that all comments sent to the LPA are public documents and that your name and address may be held on public files.