A Material Consideration is something the Local Planning Authority (LPA) is required to take in to consideration when evaluating a planning application. Material considerations can include (but are not limited to):
• Overlooking/loss of privacy
• Loss of light or overshadowing
• Highway safety
• Effect on listed building and conservation area
• Layout and density of building
• Design, appearance and materials
• Government policy
• Disabled persons' access
• Proposals in the Development Plan
• Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
• Nature conservation
But not everything most would think the LPA should take into account is actually classed as a Material Consideration. For example, the developer’s motives or reputation are not a factor, no matter who they are or what they might have done previously. Nor does it matter whether the applicant owns the land where the development is to take place, or the future use to which it might be put.
(It is important to remember that any other land owners within the development site plan must be notified by the applicant prior to submitting a planning application to the LPA).
Similarly it makes no odds if you are a tenant on the land where the development is to be located, almost regardless of the impact it will have on your life. Likewise, just because you will lose a view that only you and your family enjoy, or the value of your property will be reduced, that is of no concern to the LPA. And any breach of a (private) covenant or your personal property rights, including your personal right of way, will be ignored. However public views and public rights of way are a different matter.
It won’t help to complain about unfair competition or raise financial matters, make mention of any boundary dispute (note the word 'dispute'. If you have or have obtained a determined boundary for your land title deeds at HMLR, the LPA will have to accept a recorded boundary decision) or matters controlled by other legislation such as Building Control (except where it can be shown that drawings submitted if approved would amount to a breach of building regulations), Environmental Health (any proposed development which could cause, for example air pollution or unfit housing, is a material consideration) or fire prevention (except where it can be shown that drawings submitted if approved would lead to a breach of building regulations), and worries about religious or moral issues, such as strip clubs, betting shops and amusement arcades, will also be dismissed. However, the prevention of crime and disorder is a material consideration (NPPF.p92.b).
Perhaps most egregious of all, the fact that the application is retrospective – in other words the development went ahead without bothering to obtain planning permission in the first place, is not allowed to influence any decision. All too often it means the development, which might never have received consent before it was built, is given permission to remain, a fact of which some developers are only too aware.
So what issues are planners actually required to consider and which, when writing your objection, should you bring to their attention? As is explained in How to Object, to begin with you need to identify the ways in which the application conflicts with policies set out in such documents as the Neighbourhood Plan, the Joint Local Plan, the JLP Supplementary Planning Document and the National Planning Policy Framework.
Other published documents you should examine include any adopted supplementary guidance, such as village design statements, conservation area appraisals or car parking standards that might be relevant and, if the site is in the AONB, the AONB Planning Guidance.
The type of things you should be looking for, all of which are material considerations, and which could be pertinent are as follows – if you think one might apply there are links to the relevant JLP and NPPF policies provided, although this list is by no means definitive, so be sure to check here yourself, and also be sure to check whether any of these policies might be either supplemented or supported by the Neighbourhood Plan.
For example, will the proposed development have any detrimental effect on health and amenity
(DEV1, DEV2) or individual buildings, such as overlooking, loss of light, overshadowing, visual intrusion, noise, disturbance and smell?
Similarly, will it have any detrimental effects on a specially designated area or building (DEV21, DEV35), such as the AONB (DEV25, NPPF.p176) or green belt (Local Green Spaces NPPF.p147/p149), the undeveloped coast (DEV24, DEV36) Coastal Change Management Areas, conservation areas, listed buildings (NPPF.p200), ancient monuments and/or areas of special scientific interest (DEV2, DEV26, NPPF.p180)?
Another point worth raising could be the effect on the area, which might include the character of an area (DEV23, NPPF.p130), availability of infrastructure (DEV30, NPPF.p95/p96), density, over-development, layout, position, design and the external appearance of buildings and landscaping (DEV20, NPPF.p134).
Are there any highway safety issues, such as traffic generation, road capacity (NPPF.p85), means of access (NPPF.p110b), visibility, car parking and effects on pedestrians and cyclists (NPPF.p112), that need to be considered (DEV29)?
Would the development create a precedent? Sadly this is only a material consideration if it can be shown there would be a real danger that a proposal would inevitably lead to other inappropriate development, for example, isolated housing in the countryside (TTV26, NPPF.p80).
The need to safeguard the natural environment (NPPF.p174) and valuable resources such as good farmland or mineral reserves is a material consideration, as is the effect of the development on existing tree cover and hedgerows (DEV23, DEV28) and public rights of way (DEV3).
Again, will the proposed development conflict with any nature conservation interests (DEV26), such as the protection of badgers, bats or great crested newts, and might the development increase the risk of flooding (DEV35) or pollution?
There may also be Local Plan policies relating to specific locations or types of development, such as horse related developments in the countryside (TTV28) and residential extensions and replacement dwellings in the countryside (TTV29) that may be worth checking, and these can be found here.
Finally, you might also find arguments to help your case in the site’s planning history, including any existing permissions and appeal decisions, details of which should be available on the Council’s website.