The most common issue that our members ask for assistance with is planning. Usually this relates to applications made by neighbours that are considered inappropriate. While the Council gives considerable guidance on how to make a planning application, assistance on how to object to a lodged application is less clear. In this section we give some details of the planning decision process and some guidance on how to raise an objection.
The Consultation Period
Initial objections to a planning application must be made during that application's consultation period. This is a 21 day period that starts once all the adjoining properties have been notified of the application by the appointed Council Case Officer.
At the end of the 21 day consultation period, most of the applications made in our area can be decided by the Case Officer under delegated powers. On written request from a Councillor (which must quote valid reasons), or on receipt of 10 or more written objections, the application will be de-delegated and consequently referred to the Development Control Committee for decision by councillors.
Click here for details of the De-delegation protocol .
Making an Objection
It is important to understand what points are relevant when making your objection. Some of the reasons you may want to raise, may not be valid for refusing an application. Do not clutter your letter of objection by including reference to invalid reasons no matter how strongly you may feel about them as this will detract from more relevant points.
The Councillors or Council Officers who decide your application must consider whether there are any good planning reasons for refusing planning permission or for granting permission subject to conditions. The Council cannot reject a proposal simply because many people oppose it. The Council must first look at whether the proposal is consistent with the Sutton Unitary Development Plan (UDP) .
The "material considerations" the Council can consider include:
- Undue loss of privacy
- Loss of sunlight/daylight
- Effect on trees
- Access or traffic problems
- Need for car parking
- Unacceptable or incompatible use
- Stoage of hazardous substances
- Excessive height or bulk of buildings
- Inappropriate design/layout
- Inadequate landscaping/means of enclosure
It is important to remember that the Council is required by law to decide applications in accordance with the Sutton Unitary Development Plan (UDP) , unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The weight that can be given to material considerations does vary with individual cases.
Valid objections will usually be based on policies defined in the Sutton Unitary Development Plan, shortly to be replaced by the Local Development Framework (LDF). This is a large document with many hundreds of polices, although a considerable number of these are not relevant to the Associations area.
A list of the policies that are most relevant to typical planning applications made in our area can be obtained by clicking here.
South Cheam (planning area C on our Area map) has the status of a Special Policy Area (SPA). Policy BE39 in the UDP applies specifically to this area.
Reasons that cannot be taken into account by the Council when considering an objection are:
- Disputes over boundaries
- Restrictive covenants
- Loss of value
- Matters dealt with by other legislation
- Inconvenience caused by building works
- Opposition to business competition
- Oppostion to the principle of development when this has been settled by an outline planning permission
- The applicants' personal circumstances unless exceptionally these can be shown to be material e.g. disability
- Factual misrepresentation of the proposal.
The Decision Making Process
All comments received by the Council from neighbours and other interested parties will be copied to the Chair and Ward Councillors who sit on the Development Control Committee. Officers have Delegated Powers to determine applications that are directed by Policies within the Sutton Unitary Development Plan. If material considerations are raised which indicate that the decision should not follow the relevant policies, the decision will be taken by the Development Control Committee. However, in either case Members (Councillors) of the Development Control Committee will be informed of your concerns about the proposal.
Please note that any correspondence received by the Council may be inspected and copied by members of the public in accordance with the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985. The Council cannot keep objections to planning applications confidential even if requested to do so and these will be returned to the objector. Anonymous objections will not be taken into consideration.
The Council has procedures allowing representatives of petitions or deputations to address Council or Committee meetings. Representatives who wish to speak in support of, or in opposition to, planning applications are able to address the Development Control Committee.
At the discretion of the Chair a Sutton resident may address the meeting for a maximum of four minutes about a planning application that is on the agenda, providing they notify the Project Manager below by midday on the day of the meeting or, failing that, at the meeting at least 15 minutes before it is due to start. If more than one resident wishes to address the meeting about the same application they will be asked to select a single speaker. If they cannot do so additional speakers will be allowed, providing an objection is only heard once and the time limit is divided between the speakers.
The applicant will be given a similar opportunity to address the meeting.
One ward councillor may address the meeting for a maximum of four minutes about an application, unless there is an opposing view, providing beforehand they have notified the Project Manager below that they wish to do so.
For enquiries about the Development Control Committee contact:
Peter Snow, Project Manager (Democratic Services)
Tel: 020 8770 5119 Fax: 020 8770 5404 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The agenda for any Development Control Committee meeting is published about 10 days prior to the meeting. The agenda is available online by clicking here.
Appeals against Refusals
If an application is refused by the Council, the applicant can appeal against the decision. If this happens the Case Officer will prepare a report that justifies their reason for refusing the application. It is not necessary to send in your objections again as all the original letters of objection will be included with the appeal documentation. However, you should write in if additional relevant reasons for objection have emerged since your objection was first submitted.
As an objector, you cannot appeal against a granted application, nor against the decision of the inspector. This can only be challenged in the High Court (at significant cost!).
Planning Applications Submitted
The Association regularly monitors the Councils planning database for planning applications made in our area. We pay particular attention to two storey extensions, infills, demolition and rebuilds and plot splitting.
A brief summary of recent applications is given on our Recent Applications page. You can get full details of any application, including the application form and the drawings from the Council's online planning website.
Party Wall Act
While not a planning consideration, many of our members are concerned about what happens once a planning application is approved. For applications that involve excavation within 3m of any part of your property or which affect a shared (party) wall, the Party Wall Act comes into force.
Click here for a summary of the Act. Contact us if you would like more advice.