Hands on Middlesbrough Guide to Planning Applications

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There are two types of planning applications that may be of interest to you. This could be a single house development such as an extension or a multi-house large scale development. The local authority will advise the application through a letter to nearby neighbours, possibly a poster attached to a lamp post as well as placing the application on the Council’s planning website. Objections will be accepted by the Council planning officers during a 21 day public consultation. A response can be made by direct e-mail, via the “comments” facility on the Council website or by letter to the planning officer.

If you are unhappy about the development proposal, or any aspect of it, you can make an objection to the council. Before making an objection you could discuss the aspect of the proposal you do not like with the planning officer and the grounds for your objection. It may be something that can be changed during the application process. If it does not then you have the right to object:

  • Put your objection in writing to the council’s planning department
  • Contact other people affected by the proposal and encourage them to write letters of objection.
  • Do not be tempted to organise a petition; it will not carry any weight and is a waste of time. Also avoid using a ‘standard’ letter. Objectors should use their own words and write, type or word process their letters themselves. Objections will not carry the same weight if they are seen to have been written or produced in a standardised form.
  • Contact your local Ward councillors and Parish councillors and ask them to support you. They have access to planning expertise to advise you. Meet them on site and put forward your grounds of objection.
  • Submit your objections within the 21 day time scale. It is possible to request an extension.
  • View the officer’s report to the planning committee, it usually becomes available three working days before the Committee meeting and will be available on the Council’s planning website.
  • On the day of the planning committee meeting you may be allowed to speak at the meeting to address the Committee members.

It is important that you object on planning grounds only. Objection on the grounds of devaluation of neighbouring properties, personal issues with the applicant, disturbance during the building work, these are not planning issues.

For certain large scale developments it may be beneficial to start a local campaign group to fight the application. It is essential to involve the ward and Parish councillors in such a campaign.

The planning committee will usually consider the application for approval or refusal within 8 weeks for small scale applications and 13 weeks for large scale applications. Sometimes these timescales can be extended with the agreement between the council and the developer if there are some outstanding contentious details.

Not all decisions are made by the planning committee. Where no objections are received or are insufficient in number (less than five) or considered spurious a delegated decision can be made by the chief planning officer. However an objection from a Ward Councillor will ensure the application will be decided by the planning committee.

Planning Considerations

  • Over development.
  • Conflict with the character of the area.
  • Loss of privacy by overlooking.
  • Substantial damage to the amenities of residents caused by noise, disturbance, smell or loss of light.
  • Loss of community green space.
  • Threat to wildlife and the biodiversity of the area.
  • The visual impact of a development – what it will be like to look at. Effect on the character of the area.
  • Potential highway congestion including the need for adequate parking within the development.
  • There may be precedents set by previous planning decisions refusing permission for applications of a similar nature.
  • Change of use of a property.
  • Inappropriate design or materials

There are number of local authority policies such as the Local Plan and central Government policies such as the National Planning Policies Framework that the planning officers are obliged to comply with. Also some small scale developments, known as ‘permitted development’ receive automatic planning permission. Contact the planning office if in doubt.

Conditions applied to applications

You may agree with the application but disagree with just some of its aspects. In this case, when objecting to those aspects, you could ask for conditions to be attached to the approval for planning permission. Objecting to a planning application and asking for conditions to be added is known as making a representation rather than an objection.

The Appeal Process

If the council approves a planning application you have no right to appeal the decision. However, if a large scale development application seriously breaches a community amenity it is possible before a council decision is made to request the Secretary of State to make a ‘call-in’, it is usual to request the local MP to make this request. If planning permission is refused by the council, or conditions are imposed which the applicant considers are unacceptable then the applicant has six months to appeal to the Secretary of State. An independent Planning Inspector is appointed to listen to both sides of the case and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State who will then make the final decision. Appeals can be heard in three ways:-

  1. Written representation – This involves the exchange of written correspondence by all parties and the opportunity to comment on each other’s case. The inspector will also visit the site.
  2. Informal Hearing – Both parties to present their case to the Inspector in person in a relaxed and informal setting. The hearing usually takes the form of a round table discussion, followed by a site visit.
  3. Public Inquiry – This follows a clear set of procedures and allows all interested parties to give evidence and cross-examine the evidence of others in a formal and courtroom-like setting. The Inspector will make a site visit and may either issue a decision letter or report to the Secretary of State for final decision.

At any Inquiry the local authority will seek to defend the decision that is being appealed against. The local community does have an important role to play. If you objected to the application you will be invited to support the local authority either in writing to the Inspector or by addressing the Hearing or Public Inquiry.

If you wish either to object or to support the applicant you can put your view in writing or ask to attend the inquiry and give evidence. If you do speak you are likely to be questioned about your evidence, but the Inquiry is not intended to be intimidating. Just state your case simply and clearly.

There is now a “fast track” appeal procedure for “householder” applications. The Inspector will only view any letters received by the Council and possibly an unaccompanied site visit to come to a decision.

Benefits of development

Approved large scale developments place a requirement on the developer to provide sums of money to the impacted community through a section 106 obligation. It is essential for the community when considering and even objecting to a development that use of this money should be taken into account at the very beginning. A list of requirements (heads of terms) should be presented to the council, usually via a ward councillor. A legal agreement is then drawn up between the council and the land owner (usually the developer) to include the finally agreed heads of terms for eventual benefit to the community. It is essential the community monitor the use of these monies to ensure they are used appropriately.

To check out the latest online planning applications in Nunthorp

Google – ‘Planning applications, Middlesbrough Council’; Click on ‘Advanced’;  Click on ‘Parish’;  select ‘Nunthorpe Parish Council’ ;  scroll down and click on ‘Search’: click on application title.

 

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