How to Object

How to Object

The first step is to submit a Letter of Representation to the LPA objecting to the application.

Your Letter should concern itself only with Material Planning Considerations, and how the application is in conflict with policies in the Neighbourhood Plan (NP), if there is one, the Plymouth & South West Devon Joint Local Plan (JLP), the Plan's Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG), the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and, if the site is situated in the AONB, the AONB Planning Guidance (AONBPG). Sometimes the policies in one or more of the first three of those documents may themselves be in conflict with policies in one of more of the others, in which case the most recently written document takes precedence.

If all this sounds too intimidating please don’t be deterred. It’s really not as terrifying as it sounds. And we’ll shortly do our best to guide you safely and successfully through the process.

First though, a material consideration can be simply defined as a matter that should be taken into account when deciding a planning application. In other words, when writing your objection, you need to identify the ways the application conflicts with policies in the aforementioned plans. You can find out more about what might or might not be a material consideration here.

For example, when the Society wrote its objection to an application to demolish South Efford House and replace it with six residential dwellings (SHDC Planning Ref: 4151/21/FUL), a site within the AONB and the Undeveloped Coast, we made reference to the relevant Neighbourhood Plan, the NPPF, the JLP and the AONB Management Plan.

Taking as our starting point the Design & Access Statement, the short report that applicants submit to explain how their proposed development is a suitable response to the site and its setting, we carefully examined what they had written.

The applicants gave the area of the site as being 5,138m2, or 0.5138 hectare. So in our objection we made the point that the NPPF defined a Major Development for housing as being development where 10 or more homes will be provided, or the site has an area of 0.5 hectares or more. We then referred the case officer to Paragraph 177 of the NPPF which states: When considering applications for development within National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.

We added that, by being in the AONB, the site was also subject to the nationally protected landscapes policy of the JLP, DEV25, and that in their Design & Access Statement, the applicants had failed to consider the planning policies of either the NPPF or DEV25, or address any of their requirements. Similarly, because the site was also classified as being in the Undeveloped Coast, we added it should be subject to JLP policy DEV24, which makes clear Development which would have a detrimental effect on the undeveloped and unspoilt character, appearance or tranquility of the Undeveloped Coast, estuaries, and the Heritage Coast will not be permitted except under exceptional circumstances.

As part of the case we put forward to negate any exceptional circumstances or public interest justifications we again quoted from the applicants’ Design & Access Statement, which suggested their proposed development of six open-market detached houses will support sufficient number and range of homes to meet the needs of the community. To counter this we referred to Paragraph 29 of the adopted Aveton Gifford Neighbourhood Plan, which purely identified a need for affordable housing and support for self-build homes and provision of smaller dwellings for older people. The proposed development, we said, satisfied neither requirement.

Again, because the development site stood outside the settlement boundary it conflicted with AG1 of the NP, and was in conflict with NP policy AG3 that stated affordable homes and/or contributions towards affordable homes would be welcomed and should be included in new housing development. The applicants, conversely, were trying to argue against any affordable contribution for reasons we said were invalid.

You can read the objection we submitted here. As you will see we also examined a court case the applicant quoted, noted that the South West Coast Path ran past the site referring to mention made on that organisation’s website, and added that the site was adjacent to South Efford Fields County Wildlife Site (CWS) and South Efford Marsh Devon Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve, with the latter a mere 17m away at its closest point to the north of the Site.

Finally, we both alerted the Devon Wildlife Trust to the application, with the result that they too submitted a strong objection, and sent copies of our objection to Aveton Gifford Parish Council, the relevant District Councillor, the Head of Development Management at the LPA, the Chair of the Council’s Development Management Committee and, because the site was within the AONB, the AONB Manager.

We think it’s important to make your objection known to all in a position to influence the outcome, a point we cover in more detail in Campaigning Tips. But it’s also important to remember there’s no need for your objection to be as detailed as that of the Society, further examples of which can be found here. Instead, simply focus on those elements of the application that most concern you. Neither is it essential to quote the relevant Plan Policy references, although it’s good if you can. The case officer who considers the application should know which they are. What matters is to ensure the case officer takes those issues in to consideration.

You can download the JLP, SPG, NPPF and the AONB Planning Guidance by clicking on the relevant cover on this page, as well as finding out whether there is an adopted Neighbourhood Plan here. Similarly, the application to which you wish to object can be found on the Council’s website here, either by entering the application reference, the site address or the postcode.

And remember. Your objection doesn’t have to be perfect. All that matters is to submit it. And encourage your friends and neighbours to do so as well. Quantity can be as important as quality!