We are all very territorial about our properties, and rightly so. Generally we work very hard to pay the rent or mortgage, so anything that we see as a threat to our home can very quickly get temperatures rising and if you are very unlucky, confrontation with a neighbour.
This can result in some frustration as some of the issues you might perceive planning is there to protect against, are not.
Land Ownership or loss of property value are just two examples where planning does not come into account. If you are commenting on a set of plans it is as important to know what can not be considered, as well as what can be considered, so you focus your attention where it can best be used. These issues that the planning authority can consider are called ‘Material Considerations’ and these are matters that should be taken into account in deciding a planning application or on an appeal against a planning decision.
The main material considerations include:
* 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
Examples of factors that cannot normally be considered as material planning considerations are:
* Loss of a view
* Negative effect on the value of properties
* Boundary disputes including encroachment of foundations or gutters
* Private covenants or agreements
* The applicant’s personal conduct or history
* The applicant’s motives
* Potential profit for the applicant or from the application
* Private rights to light
* Private rights of way
* Damage to property
* Loss of trade to individual competitors
* Age, health, status, background and work patterns of the objector
* Time taken to do the work
* Building and structural techniques
* Matters covered by other statute
* Alcohol or gaming licence
Overlooking and Privacy:
If someone has an extension then this inevitably changes the potential for a garden or other area to be over looked. This does not mean that there are grounds for rejection, and generally overlooking needs to be to the extent where a significant direct and close line of sight is created over a property. On many occasions, this can be addressed with obscured glass.
Loss of a view / Overshadowing, Loss of Light:
The loss of a view is not a material consideration, so if the fields in front of a property are to be replaced with a large development then this is not a material consideration (although there may be other reasons why this is). Loss of Light or overshadowing is, however, a material consideration and a large extension immediately adjacent to the side of a semi detached property along the boundary line is likely to come under pressure depending on the height and depth.
The plans show work on my land:
This will sound perverse, but if a neighbour shows fencing, walls or even a structure that is on your land then this can not be considered in a planning application. Boundary disputes are very complicated and subject to very different law which planning authorities have little expertise in, and no legal authority to preside over. They generally take a long time to resolve and can require some extensive research, or even witness statements from previous owners. All a planning application can do is to say that a set of plans comply with the local plan, and planning policy. This does not give someone the right then to enter property that is not theirs and build. If you feel that a neighbour is proposing to build on your land then you should speak to them, their architect may simply have mis-understood the boundary location. If a level of understanding can not be reached then you may need to contact a solicitor and seek advice, and this may result in a formal solicitors letter to the neighbour stating your concerns. Covenants, private rights of way and land ownership are all areas where other statute and law exists to address.
There is something called Permitted Development. This is where certain works can be carried out without planning permission. Generally this might include walls or fences under 2m in height, a porch, driveways, and some types of extension. click on this link to finf out more: Permitted Development Guidance
Who to speak to if you are concerned:
Planning is complicated in that there are rarely issues which are clear cut. A lot of the decision making is subjective and based on experience so if you have concerns about a planning application then the first port of call is to the planning case officer or if you need help tracking that person down, then your District Councillor can help put you in the right direction, and should also be willing to visit and give advice where possible.
The decision is announced:
If rejected, the applicant has a right to appeal. If approved the opposer generally has no option but to accept (few exceptions might include a Judicial Review for a supermarket for example).
Making an application:
Speak to the neighbours. Explain the works and discuss this at an early stage. Do not have the arrogance to just proceed without involving them and letting them know what you have in mind. If the scheme is borderline for approval, then consulting with a neighbour and getting their support after incorporating their comments can go a long way to supporting your application, so is well worth doing and can only help, not hinder.
The East Hampshire District Council website planning portal click here