Skip to main content

I want to make comments on a planning application

This note has been produced by the Planning Division to provide advice and guidance to Parish Councils, neighbours and other interested parties, who wish to comment on planning applications, on what factors the District Council can legitimately consider in reaching a decision on any particular planning application.

The legal framework for planning requires that, where the "Development Plan" contains relevant policies, applications for development which are in accordance with the plan shall be allowed, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. In Rochford, the "Development Plan" comprises a number of documents; these are:

  • Core Strategy (2011)
  • Development Management Plan (2014)
  • Allocations Plan (2014)
  • Rayleigh Centre Area Action Plan (2015)
  • Rochford Town Centre Action Plan (2015)
  • Hockley Area Action Plan (2014)
  • London Southend Airport and Environs Joint Area Action Plan (2014)

The first three of these documents contain policies that apply to development across the whole District. The last four contain policies that only apply to specific areas, as suggested by their names.

These documents will eventually be replaced by a single document called the Rochford Local Plan. This is currently being prepared, with a view to being introduced before the end of 2023.

Planning legislation is intended to regulate the development and use of land in the public interest. The Government has published the National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”), which sets out how the Government wants development to be regulated across England. Our local development plan provides more detailed, locally responsive policies than the NPPF, however in some circumstances, such as where our local policies do not cover a particular issue, or they have become out-of-date, the policies set out in the NPPF may also be relevant to how a planning application is assessed.

The criteria against which all planning applications are tested are often referred to as 'material planning considerations'. In preparing any comments on a particular application, it is important to know what these considerations are, as the Local Planning Authority is not allowed to consider non-planning arguments in reaching its decision on an application. The fact that you may not like a particular proposal is not a material consideration. The following list provides some examples of non-planning matters:

  • effect of the application on the value of nearby properties;
  • the right to retain views from existing properties; and
  • the effect of possible competition on existing businesses.

Some of the matters which may be material planning considerations and which could therefore be considered by the Local Planning Authority in deciding whether or not to approve a particular planning application may include the following:-

  1. The policies contained in the adopted Development Plan.
  2. Relevant national planning policy contained within the National Planning Policy Framework and relevant planning legislation, Circulars and other Central Government Guidance on planning issues.
  3. The number, size, layout, siting, design and external appearance of buildings.
  4. Impact on the neighbourhood of an area
    NOTE: Would the proposal harm the character or amenity of the area?
  5. Impact on adjoining properties in terms of privacy, and daylight.
    NOTE: If you feel you have a 'right to light', you may wish to take private legal advice, but this is not a matter which the Local Planning Authority can take into account.
  6. The effects on traffic, road access and visibility, parking and highway safety.
  7. The appropriateness of the proposed land use, e.g. the conversion of a house in a quiet residential street to a Shop or Restaurant.

It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of material planning considerations, but it is hoped these examples will help if you wish to comment on a particular planning application.