Guide to the planning process

We’re often asked about the Parish input into planning applications and how applications are decided.  Below is a brief guide:

Planning Applications are determined by South Cambridgeshire District Council. Whilst Cottenham Parish Council is entitled to comment on planning applications it cannot make a decision on them.  Current planning applications in the Parish are searchable on the South Cambridgeshire District Council website.  The Agenda for Parish Planning Committee Meetings with details of the planning applications to be discussed can be found on this website.

Cottenham Parish Council receives a copy of every planning application that affects the village.  Every planning application is considered at a meeting of our Planning Committee.  Meetings of the Planning Committee are advertised and members of the public are welcome to attend.  Most meetings take place in the Parish Office.  There is a period at the start of each meeting where members of the public, including those supporting or opposing an application, can make statements.  Councillors will then discuss and vote on the comments to be made by the Parish Council on each application.  When a decision is made on a planning application, only certain issues are taken into account; these are often referred to as material planning considerations (see below).

The Parish Council sends its comments to SCDC.  Members of the public can also submit comments to SCDC, either by post of using an online form.  If you send a comment to SCDC it would be helpful if you could also send a copy to the Parish Council as SCDC does not routinely forward comments to us.

A decision will then be made on the application. Most decisions are made by an officer (employee) of South Cambridgeshire District Council. Some are decided by a committee of SCDC councillors, usually because a SCDC councillor has asked for the application to be referred to a committee  If the decision is to be made by a committee the meeting will be advertised and members of the public can attend and make comments (but generally only one speaker in favour and one against). However if the decision is made by an officer it will be made in private and only written comments will be considered.

There is no guarantee that any decision will be in line with Cottenham Parish Council’s comments but most are since SCDC Council recognises that parish councillors are familiar with their local community.

If permission is refused, or is granted subject to conditions, the applicant may appeal to the Planning Inspectorate (an independent body). However neither Cottenham Parish Council nor anyone else opposed to a planning application can appeal if planning permission is granted.

SCDC is also responsible for ‘enforcement’ action, for example where development has taken place without planning permission. The Parish Council is not invited to comment on such action. Complaints about unauthorised development should be made direct to SCDC.

Material Planning Considerations

Issues that may be relevant to the decision (There may exist further material planning considerations not included here):

  • Local, strategic, national planning policies and policies in the Development Plan
  • Emerging new plans which have already been through at least one stage of public consultation
  • Pre-application planning consultation carried out by, or on behalf of, the applicant
  • Government and Planning Inspectorate requirements – circulars, orders, statutory instruments, guidance and advice
  • Previous appeal decisions and planning Inquiry reports
  • Principles of Case Law held through the Courts
  • (based on Building Research Establishment guidance)
  • Overshadowing/loss of outlook to the detriment of residential amenity (though not loss of view as such)
  • Overlooking and loss of privacy
  • Highway issues: traffic generation, vehicular access, highway safety
  • Noise or disturbance resulting from use, including proposed hours of operation
  • Smells and fumes
  • Capacity of physical infrastructure, e.g. in the public drainage or water systems
  • Deficiencies in social facilities, e.g. spaces in schools
  • Storage & handling of hazardous materials and development of contaminated land
  • Loss or effect on trees
  • Adverse impact on nature conservation
  • Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas
  • Incompatible or unacceptable uses
  • Local financial considerations offered as a contribution or grant
  • Layout and density of building design, visual appearance and finishing materials
  • Inadequate or inappropriate landscaping or means of enclosure

The weight attached to material considerations in reaching a decision is a matter of judgement for the decision-taker however the decision-taker is required to demonstrate that in reaching that decision that they have considered all relevant matters.

Generally greater weight is attached to issues raised which are supported by evidence rather than solely by assertion.  If an identified problem can be dealt with by means of a suitable condition then the Local Planning Authority is required to consider this rather than by issuing a refusal.

Non-Material Planning Considerations:

Issues that are not relevant to the decision (There exist further non-material planning considerations not included in this list):

  • Matters controlled under building regulations or other non-planning legislation e.g. structural stability, drainage details, fire precautions, matters covered by licences etc.
  • Private issues between neighbours e.g. land/boundary disputes, damage to property, private rights of access, covenants, ancient and other rights to light etc.
  • Problems arising from the construction period of any works, e.g. noise, dust, construction vehicles, hours of working (covered by Control of Pollution Acts).
  • Opposition to the principle of development when this has been settled by an outline planning permission or appeal
  • Applicant’s personal circumstances (unless exceptionally and clearly relevant, e.g. provision of facilities for someone with a physical disability)
  • Previously made objections/representations regarding another site or application
  • Factual misrepresentation of the proposal
  • Opposition to business competition
  • Loss of property value
  • Loss of view

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply