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OBJECTING NEIGHBOURS - WHAT
TO DO AND HOW TO HANDLE THEM
It is with regret that most Panning applications will receive neighbour
complaints of one sort or another. It is simply a fact of life. If you are
about to submit an application for Planning permission then you need to complete
a risk assessment on the likely reactions from your neighbours.
In an ideal world, and a lot of current thinking
would lead you to believe that having pre-application meetings with your
affected neighbours will prevent neighbour objections and clear the path
for an unfettered application. Regretfully, a lot of this nice 'touchy feeley'
engaging experiences stuff with the neighbours simply results in a home goal
for you that can leave you feeling simply gutted.
This is because most neighbours are emotional and
have alternative agendas to prevent you from building your scheme. The psychology
and understanding of all the possible neighbour motives for such events is
a another topic in itself that I wont cover them here in this news
letter. Our Planning Guide explains these issues and how to complete a neighbour
impact risk assessment prior to designing and submitting your scheme for
Therefore, we will assume that your application
has now been submitted and you have received notification that your neighbour(s)
have complained. What should you do next? Do you need to respond? Should
you go and approach the neighbours for a meeting to try and resolve any issues?
Should you do nothing and rely upon the Planning Officers judgment on the
scheme? These are the typical responses that need to be addressed for each
category of neighbour complaint.
Firstly, do not panic. The complaint letter
can come as a complete surprise as most neighbours will not tell you face
to face that they will be complaining on your home extension scheme for example.
You will first hear about the complaint usually from your Planning Design
Agent who may be tracking the application for you or you may be informed
by the Planning Officer or even you may be tracking the application yourself
via the internet.
You need to read the letter of complaint in order
to assess what you should do next. Fortunately for the residential
developer or building owner most neighbour compliant letters do not
actually contain any relevant planning issues whatsoever which is great news.
They seem to go off on a tangent querying the noise and disturbance the building
works will cause them or how their view of a church spire some 4 miles away
will be lost from the wc window. This type of letter needs no response from
you at all. Simply ignore it as most certainly the Case Planning Officer
will to in most cases.
If the neighbours complaint letter includes
personal attack element (and many do by the way) then most neighbours have
shot themselves in the foot straight away so the letter can again be ignored
with no response from yourselves required.
If the complaint letter contains some planning
issues that you consider are potentially relevant but the neighbour has
overstated their case, a simple telephone conversation with the Case Planning
Officer can often determine the relevancy of such issues. Upon
the Case Officers response, you can then determine whether or not you need
to defend certain aspects of the development scheme.
Often the letter of complaint has been written
by a well articulated neighbour and can often involve the services of another
Planning Agent guiding them in the background. These types of Planning
objection letters are potentially the most damaging to your home extension
scheme. This is because they know what relevant planning issues to focus
on and normally target key phrases such as loss of light, overbearing impact,
overlooking, out of scale, disproportionate etc.
Planning speak like this will normally adversely
affect the outcome of a marginal scheme as the Planning Officer will not
normally want to support an application that has any of these potentials.
This type of complaint letter will usually need defending tackling each
legitimate Planning item issue by issue in a very concise way. This
is usually where the Specialist Planning Design Agent supervising your
application comes in handy as they can use counter defence planning speak
that you would normally be unfamiliar with.
Keeping to the legitimate Planning issues is vital.
Any divergence will normally weaken your case.
Another form of neighbour complaint letter is the
circular or the 'gang up' letters where a 'busybody' neighbour has been
pro-active in motivating other neighbours to complain (every street normally
has one) as well irrespective of whether or not those neighbours are affected
by your development proposal. Normally these types of 'hate campaigns' are
very transparent and not organised that well to be effective. Planning Officer
or well versed and experienced in spotting these neighbour tactics due to
photocopied letters, petitions, repeat paragraphs simply copied from one
letter to another etc.
However, if they have been organised well and each
neighbour has written a unique letter of complaint specific to their own
legitimate Planning Issues then you are normally sunk without a good defence.
Again each issue needs to be defended on a point for point basis but never
Our 'Maximum Build
Planning Guide' explains further the tactics involved when
developing land or a site for residential use and how to give yourself the
best chance of being granted an approval. There are some reals do's
and don't's that must be implemented.
To purchase our Maximum Build Planning
Guide simply click on one of the links below....
"My suggestion would be to walk away from the 90% who don't
and join the 10% who do".
About the Author
MSM is a Practicing Planning Agent and building design team offering
Architectural Services to their clients specialising in residential
development. The views and opinions expressed here are personal
ones based on relevant life experiences. These views and opinions are
not intended to be actioned or copied by others.
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we make no warranty as to accuracy or completeness. In particular
MSM does not accept responsibility for changes made to this email
after it was sent. Any opinions expressed in this document are those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the company
or its affiliates. They may be subject to change without notice.
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