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How To Oppose A Planning Application


As we all know, planning plays an important role in our society. This process helps to deliver critically important services such as places to live and work for our growing population, delivering regeneration, tackling climate change and protecting our natural and historic environment.

As we also know, not all planning applications are good!

Itís important to have a written campaign plan. This will enable you to co-ordinate the tasks involved, use people and resources effectively and evaluate the outcome. There are a number of fundamental questions that need to be answered at the start of any campaign. The more time you spend answering these questions, the better your campaign will be. I hope that by the time you finish reading this book, you will have developed clear ideas on how to answer these questions.

So where do I start?
Start by defining your desired outcomes. As you are reading this, it is safe to assume you would like to see a planning application refused by a planning authority. This is outcome 1.
Outcome 1 is only achievable if you succeed in attaining a number of secondary objectives. These should include:
∑ Outcome 2 is to get members of the community to support and actively back your position.
∑ Outcome 3 is to get your information presented clearly to decision makers.

Ok how do I define my outcomes?
It is important to list a number of primary and secondary goals. By having intermediary goals such as a number of objectors or of councillors who support your position, you will be able to judge the progress of your campaign. This will help motivate those around you. To help you define these, I want you to answer the following questions.

Who am I trying to influence?
To answer this question, I recommend to my clients carrying out a full stakeholder and political audit identifying members of the planning committee that will decide on the planning application, local elected representatives and identifying potential partner organisations such as environmental and social groups. I recommend a number of good websites on my www.planact.co.uk/links page. These sites give information on Councillors and MPs including contact details and political parties.

Whatís my message?
Once you have identified who will make the decision on the planning application, you can start planning on how you can best reach them. I always recommend to my clients to create a Detailed Objection Dossier. List the 5 main reasons you object to a planning application. These can be as diverse as increased traffic flows to flooding to noise or lack of infrastructure. Be as detailed as you can. By spending time on this and reading the Local Development Plan and asking your planning officers for details on the site, you can quickly build a portfolio of reasons for objecting. Why not ask PlanAct to help you create a Detailed Objection Dossier? www.planact.co.uk

How am I going to reach decision makers?
Now that you know what your main messages are, you have to get them out to decision makers and the general public. This can be via the media, direct contact (letters, meetings, phone calls) or developing public pressure. Developing a clear strategy for each decision maker will make it easier to track your campaigns progress. I recommend creating a series of timelines against which you can check actions as you complete them.

When will the planning application be submitted? Decided?
Having a clear deadline to work to will motivate you and your team. It will also help you establish a timeline for actions. There will be increased need for public debate and action as the decision process draws to its conclusion. Knowing when that is will allow you to plan more effective actions.

I would recommend visiting www.planact.co.uk to get further help and tips on how to effectively oppose a planning application.

By: William Brown

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