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What to look for in an application

How will this development affect you and your community?

You'll have to examine the planning application very carefully to find out exactly what a proposed development consists of and how it could affect your local community. You may also find it useful to look at other applications for the same area, to get a wider picture of how new development is likely to shape its future.

Planning applications and accompanying documents should describe the proposed development's size and location, how it will function, and its relationship with the immediate surroundings.

You should concentrate your support or objections around these three main issues, because they're the key things  the so-called material considerations' that decision-makers will take into account. It can be valuable to cover other concerns, but keep your focus on these main issues. For example, complaining that you don't like terraced houses, or that a building will spoil your view, will be less relevant than saying that a new development proposal doesn't take account of flood risk. Equally, saying that you support an application because you think it will improve property values is not really relevant, but you could give your support because you think the proposal will improve the quality of local public spaces.

The application may also include other information on:

  • surface water and sewerage;
  • vehicle and pedestrian access;other adjacent land owned by the applicant;
  • details of any tree felling (although the application may not show precisely the trees proposed for felling);
  • materials to be used in the development;
  • design of the buildings and the direction they face; and
  • what the applicant intends to use the development for.

How to find out about new planning applications in your area:

  • ask your local planning authority to send you a weekly list of planning applications. There is often a charge for this service. Many local planning authorities provide the service by email and this option is more likely to be free;
  • ask your local planning authority to let you know about any application that is likely to be of interest to you;
  • contact your parish or town council, who are legally entitled to receive copies of all planning applications in their area;
  • keep in touch with your local CPRE district or county group, which usually gets weekly lists of planning applications; and
  • scan local newspapers for information about more significant applications.

Looking at an application: your checklist

  • Look for information not only in the planning application, but in all the other documents, plans and drawings provided by the applicant.
  • Check to see if the application constitutes a special case, which may have a bearing on your response (see Further Reading, below).
  • Satisfy yourself that the description of the proposed development accurately reflects what it will be like in reality. If planning permission is granted, it will be on the basis of the development matching up to what's described in the application form, so seek clarification now from the local planning officer, applicant or landowner if you're unsure about anything.
  • Applicants are required by law to provide a certain amount of information along with a planning application. The application should only be considered once they've provided it. Certain types of application require extra information. For example, applications for retail development outside town centres sometimes require an impact assessment. This considers how the development could affect existing town centre businesses. If you need more detail about a proposal, ask your local planning authority to make sure the applicant provides all necessary information.
  • Remember that planning officers are there to help. Ask for advice if you're unsure about how to interpret an application, or what the wider effects of the proposal might be. Contact them by phone or email, or, if necessary, make an appointment to see someone in the planning department.

NextStep Two: Visit the site of the proposed development

Further reading

Special Cases