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A Guide To Neighbours Rights In Planning Permission


As a landowner, one of the most tricky parts of planning permission is your neighbours or more specifically, how they will react to your proposals.

Neighbours falling out favour with one another over planning permission is a familiar tale. In many cases, disgruntled neighbours can even derail planning applications with a host of gripes and objections.

So what if this happens to you? As a landowner, you may encounter planning permission objections from your neighbours—but, armed with the right information, you can navigate these choppy waters successfully.

To help you deal with potential objections, we’re going to explore planning permission neighbours rights, common complaints, and how to manage any potential concerns during the application process. We will also consider the power of the Neighbourhood Development Plan and how it can shape proposals within the local area.

Let’s get started.

Can they complain? Opportunities for your neighbours to object

a hand making a checklist in a notepad

To answer the question, ‘can my neighbours complain about my planning application?’, the short answer is: yes they can.

Your neighbours have the right to raise concerns or make comments during the application process based on these factors:

  • The size of the application: In this case, the applicant may have to carry out a period of consultation before officially applying. This situation is more common for larger housing developments. This could come in the form of an online consultation (more common now due to COVID-19), a leaflet drop, or possibly even a public exhibition. In all cases, neighbours will have a chance to make comments on the application.
  • The level of pre-application consultation: Like consultations, this is usually determined by a District Council through its SCI (Statement of Community Involvement)—a document that sets out how the council will involve, and consult, communities through both plan-making and applications. It also sets out the expectations for applicants and how they should consult when they proceed with certain planning permission processes.
  • Upon validation: Neighbours can either object to or support a scheme once a Local Planning Authority has validated the application. Upon validation, the application will be available to view on the Council’s public access planning application page. From here, residents can make comments that will be visible to the case officer.
  • The Local Planning Authority: It’s possible to report works to the Local Planning Authority if someone has valid objections to neighbours planning application. For instance, if your neighbour feels that your proposals or work goes against planning regulations or what is agreed, they can raise issues directly with the local authority.
  • Parish councils:  The parish council may be consulted during the application process as such, can comment or object to plans. But, beyond their own interests, it’s worth noting that parish councils exist to represent your neighbours as the wider local community—something that is certainly worth considering during the planning application process.

Common reasons for neighbour objections to planning permission

Before we delve into the specific reasons neighbours are likely to object to planning permission, it’s worth understanding neighbourhood plans in a little more detail.

Neighbourhood plans have, in recent years, gained considerable power in regulating the direction of developments within communities. Essentially, neighbourhood plans give residents a say concerning how development is approached.

Once adopted, neighbourhood plans carry the same legal status as the Local Plan, and will technically come into force as part of the statutory development scheme. If what you are proposing, as a landowner, clashes with policies contained within the neighbourhood plan, it is unlikely that you will be able to progress your application. 

If this is the case, your neighbours will have had the right to contribute to this plan, which may result in your works being deemed inappropriate. When determining an application, a Local Planning Authority has to afford significant weight to a neighbourhood plan, if it’s formally adopted during the process.

Now that you understand the gravity of neighbourhood planning and how it could impact your application, let’s consider the most common reasons for objections and refusals to planning permission:

  • A loss of privacy or residential amenity: Planning permission and neighbours privacy go hand in hand. Putting yourself in their shoes. if a neighbour builds an extension and a new window that overlooks your property, for example, you could claim that a proposal would result in a loss of light, or have an unacceptable impact in terms of noise.
  • Accessibility: If a development was to result in the loss of parking space or impede disabled amenities, for instance, a neighbour could object if the application was to result in increased traffic movements or a loss of access.
  • Environmental factors: Should a neighbour believe that your proposals will result in a negative environmental impact, they have the right to object. These kinds of complaints are usually related to protected species, neighbouring trees or local heritage assets.
  • Design issues: Aesthetics and design are common issues concerning planning permissions and neighbours rights. If residents feel that a proposal will have a negative visual impact on the area or clash with surrounding buildings or architecture, they can (and usually will) raise concerns during the application process.

In addition to these common neighbour objections to planning permission, you must look into the relevant legal and title documents before making your application as there could be official charges or restrictions that relate to other properties in the area—restrictive covenants over your property which could restrict certain types of work.

How to manage your neighbours during the application process

a sitting man pointing at a laptop screen and other man looking at where he is pointing

When it comes to diligently manage your neighbours’ complaints or concerns during the planning permission application process, transparency is key.

To remain transparent from start to finish, you should discuss your proposal in detail with your neighbours before submitting any form of application. Opening up a dialogue with local residents is also advisable if you have a large-scale development site.

If you give local residents as well as parish councils a chance to discuss your proposals and make comments before submission, you are likely to enjoy a more leisurely ride through the application process—you may even gain their support.

It’s also worth noting that a Local Planning Authority can refuse an application if they feel you have cut local residents out of the process. 

The hard reality is: as a landowner, you’re likely to encounter disgruntled neighbours and objections to your proposals during the planning application process. 

Even if your application is perfectly acceptable, someone is always likely to object, and these days, this is particularly prevalent with the rise of NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard).

The bottom line is if you wish to proceed with an application, engaging with the right people and professionals and prioritising transparency will see you in good stead—you will be able to overcome almost every issue or objection thrown your way.

If you need advice or consultancy concerning neighbours rights and planning permission, we can help. Contact us and we will be happy to guide you through the process.

For more essential landower advice and insights, read our ultimate guide to planning permission.

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