16 Aug 2021

I Object! The Most Sommon Planning Objections for Self-builders

Developing property – whether that be commercial or domestic – is a legal minefield, one whose complexities aren’t always easy to navigate. The intricacies of the planning world have not only left many self-builders and developers frustrated in the past, but worse than that, out of pocket, too. After all, when it comes to self-builds, it’s never guaranteed that planning permissions will be granted.


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So, the greater your understanding of the area, the greater the chances of receiving planning approval. Lee Hatwell is a Chartered Surveyor and Director of Munday + Cramer, an architecture and surveying practice based in Essex. Here, he speaks to us about some of the most common planning objections he’s seen during his time within the industry.

Overlooking/loss of privacy

One of the most common reasons for planning applications to be objected to is the risk that the proposed works might lead to a resulting loss of privacy for neighbours. A planning application for a new balcony, for instance, would have to take into consideration the impact on the privacy of the neighbouring property/properties.

There are no definitive standards when it comes to what is/isn’t an acceptable loss of privacy, with a large part of the decision-making process ultimately coming down to the property’s existing situation. In other words, a planning application that would lead to bigger changes in privacy levels would more likely gain approval in an already-built up suburban area than it would in a secluded rural spot.

Design principles

Another stumbling block for many self-builders is that they neglect to consider the surrounding properties and their design. Many applications are refused on the grounds that the proposed development “wouldn’t be in keeping with” the surrounding property. Applications must display that they’ve taken into account everything from an area’s historical context to the materials traditionally used within the region.

Self-builds in areas like the Cotswolds and Bath, for example, are usually looked upon more favourably by planning officers if they utilise certain kinds of limestone in their construction, a material which has been used for centuries within these regions. Conversely, a self-builder looking to build a stark, Brutalist-style three-storey extension in a chocolate-box suburb might find it very difficult to successfully get planning permission.

Affecting amenity of neighbours (by noise, disturbance, etc.)

Light, noise pollution and late-night activity arising from a proposed development are all reasons that an application might be denied planning permission. This might refer to disturbances made once the works are completed or actually to the construction period itself. These objections can also be made on the grounds of the proposed hours of working, for instance, or the increased traffic that works might bring to a site. For smaller works, this is clearly not so contentious an issue. If you’re looking towards implementing something bigger like a swimming pool, for instance, then the quantity of traffic and access issues stemming from contractors might become more of an issue.

Potential negative impacts on the environment

This has always been an important concern within the planning framework, but now so more than ever, given the increased awareness and urgency surrounding climate and environmental issues. Self-builders looking to develop in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for instance, might find themselves struggling to get any sort of planning permissions granted, even for small works.

If an area is of particular ecological importance or concern, this again raises the threshold in terms of what will/won’t be considered for permissions. Typically, if a local planning authority is unsure whether an application would negatively impact upon the immediate flora and fauna, then it will have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out. Not only does an EIA help accurately identify ecological risks, but it also offers the public an opportunity to voice their concerns too.

What isn’t a valid planning objection?

As frustrating as planning objections are, they’re not always the end of the world, as many of them are baseless in their objections. Arguments made, for instance, surrounding a loss of views, loss of trade, or any personal or moral views about the application, aren’t valid grounds on which an objection can be submitted. Similarly, changes to an adjacent property’s value as a result of a development would not constitute a valid planning objection.

Ultimately, we’d say the most important thing for self-builders is that they always do their research, because whilst there are certainly applications more likely to get approved than others, there’s almost always a degree of subjectivity in that it’s going to, ultimately, either be approved (or not) by a planning officer. Preparation is crucial; it saves time, money and improves your chances of application success.

Munday + Cramer offers a range of services relating to the built environment, including architectural design, building surveying, project management, facilities management and bid applications. Visit its website below.

Further information....

Lee Hatwell

is a Chartered Surveyor and Director of Munday + Cramer


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