At a glance:
- Read this guide before making a comment - remember, anyone can comment on an application
- Provide your comments in writing - online submission is easiest
- Include your name and address, so we can attribute relevant weight to the content of the comments
- Get your comments in within the consultation period
- Include a telephone number and / or email address, so that we can contact you about your comments or a Planning Committee date if we need to
- Stick to material planning considerations
- Understand the Data Protection and GDPR implications of how your data and comments will be used
- Be honest and considered in your comments, remembering they will be publicly available
- Provide anonymous comments
- Provide a signature - these are not required and do not add weight to comments received
- Request your comments are kept confidential, or provide information you wouldn't want to be made public - e.g. financial information, medical information etc
- Contain any material which is defamatory of any person
- Be offensive, inflammatory, discriminatory, violent, threatening or libelous in your comments, these will not be considered by the case officer
- Promote sexually explicit material
- Breach copyright, or any other legal requirement
- Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age
- Be likely to deceive any person
- Infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person
- Promote any illegal activity or violence
- Be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence
- Be threatening, abusive or invade another's privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety
- Be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person
- Be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person
- Give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case
- Advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse
- Give any information relating to medical data for yourself or others; this is unlawful for us to process
- Use any personal names - please use words such as applicant, neighbour etc
- Give any personal information, such as you are living on your own, you are on holiday next week etc
How to comment on planning applications
The Council is keen to give people who may be affected by a development the opportunity to express their views. The manner in which the Council publicises applications is in line with statutory legislation, and varies on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Councils adopted Statement of Community Involvement.
Comments (also known as representations) for current applications can be submitted online by following the link on the application page you wish to comment on. This is the quickest and easiest way to provide comments to the Council.
Alternatively, comments can be submitted by email or by letter - if commenting by either email or letter, please quote the planning application reference number (eg S18/XXXX) in all correspondence.
All representations received in respect of a planning application will be processed in accordance with the various Town & Country Planning Acts .
 In particular the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 including any amendments, consequential, subsequent or supplemental legislation such as the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.
When to comment
Planning applications are subject to defined consultation periods, within which the majority of comments are expected to be received.
It is important to get your comments in on time, and prompt submission of comments is encouraged. Comments submitted during the consultation period will be fully considered. If you submit beyond this period there is a risk a decision may have been taken before your comments are received .
 The Council will endeavour to consider comments submitted after the end of the consultation period, up until the day the recommendation is completed However the Council cannot be held responsible if your comments are received after the consultation period has closed and a decision has already been taken.
What to include
It is essential that any comments received include a name, an address, and contact details. In exceptional circumstances, we will consider requests to obscure names to protect identities, please contact the Case Officer for the application to discuss.
Comments cannot be treated as confidential, and all representations form part of the public file which is available for inspection at our office by request. They may be made available in the form submitted to us, including any personal data. We may provide copies of them to other parties directly related to the application such as applicants or agents, and consultees such as the Highway Authority. You should also note that in certain circumstances we may be required to provide copies of your comments (including any personal data included) to other bodies, such as the Planning Inspectorate.
You are responsible for your comments. The Council accepts no responsibility for the content of comments. The Council reserves the right to decline to accept, amend or redact comments which are considered to be unacceptable or inappropriate.
Material Planning Considerations
SKDC will consider comments received about planning applications, but we can only take into consideration comments which raise material planning considerations when deciding an application.
Therefore, objections may not always result in planning permission being refused, because there are other factors, such as the planning policies of the council and central government, which may outweigh the objections.
The strength or volume of local opposition (such as petitions or multiple copies of the same objection letter) is not in itself a material planning consideration, but if the content of such objections is focused on the material planning issues, then they can be taken into account.
We also take material and non-material considerations into account when deciding on planning enforcement matters.
Material Planning Considerations
Material planning considerations can include (but are not limited to):
- Overlooking/loss of privacy
- Loss of daylight/sunlight or overshadowing
- Scale and dominance
- Layout and density of buildings
- Appearance and design of development and materials proposed
- Disabled persons' access
- Highway safety
- Traffic and parking issues
- Draining and flood risk
- Noise, dust, fumes etc
- Impact on character or appearance of area
- Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas
- Effect on trees and wildlife/nature conservation
- Impact on the community and other services
- Economic impact and sustainability
- Government policy
- Proposals in the Local Development Plan
- Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
Issues which cannot be taken into account
- Who the applicant is/the applicant's background
- Loss of views
- Loss of property value
- Loss of trade or increased competition
- Strength or volume of local opposition
- Construction noise/disturbance during development
- Fears of damage to property
- Maintenance of property
- Boundary disputes, covenants or other property rights
- Rights of way
- Personal circumstances are generally not a material planning consideration
What are material planning considerations?
Examples of material planning considerations include, but are not restricted to, the following:
- Local/Government Planning Policy and Guidance
- Highway safety and traffic levels
- Flood risk
- Impact on the appearance of the area
- Design, appearance, layout and materials
- Overlooking and loss of privacy
- Loss of light or overshadowing
- Noise, disturbance and smells resulting from the proposed development
- Conservation of buildings, trees and open land
- Need to safeguard the countryside or protected species of plant or animal
Examples of matters which are not material planning considerations include, but are not restricted to, are:
- The developer's identity, morals, motives or past record
- Effect on the value of your property
- Loss of a private view
- Inconvenience or other problems caused by building works
- Private neighbour disputes
- Impact on private drainage systems
But they don't own all the land? (Planning & Land Ownership)
The planning system entitles anyone to apply for permission to develop any plot of land, irrespective of ownership. This does not however affect any civil rights which can preclude development from being implemented if the consent of the owner is not obtained.
An applicant is required to notify owners of the land or buildings to which the application relates, as well as any agricultural tenants . An 'owner' for planning purposes is anyone with a freehold interest, or leasehold interest the unexpired term of which is not less than 7 years. When making an application, an applicant is required to sign a certificate confirming the ownership of the land to which the application relates and that the relevant notices have been served.
Further details on certification can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-an-application#ownership-certificate
If you believe someone has served an incorrect certificate, this can be a material matter which requires attention during the determination process. In such cases, in order for us to challenge this with the applicant/agent, we request that you provide proof of ownership (such as a copy of a Land Registry title) or alternative evidence to show that the certificate is incorrect. In the majority of cases where such proof is not available, and there is no clear error, we will often side with the applicant as it is an offence to complete a false or misleading certificate, either knowingly or recklessly, with a maximum fine of up to £5,000.
 In accordance with article 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015
Will you visit my property or undertake a site visit with me?
Officers undertake site visits as part of the determination of applications; this is an important part of the process as it enables us to evaluate the effects of the proposal. The Town & Country Planning Act gives us the ability to access the application site for this purpose, and we will also undertake further assessments within the local area. The extent of a site visit varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature and likely effects of the proposal and the Officer will use their professional judgment to determine the extent of the site visit and what areas the proposal needs to be assessed from.
In carrying out an assessment of the application, we may need to obtain access from your property. We will always check first whether you are at home. If you are not then we may need to enter the public part of your garden or look over a fence to assess the impact of the proposals on your property. In exceptional circumstances, we may need to make an appointment to visit on another occasion.
In most cases, we will not agree to specific requests for site visits or meetings with third parties due to the resource implications, as well as other issues (such as access to land, health and safety etc). We may however on occasion contact individuals to gain access to land/buildings to assess the impact of development; this is done on a case-by-case basis depending on the issue at hand and is at the Officers discretion.
What about petitions?
If you think a lot of people agree with you about a planning application you can organise a petition.
If you decide to organise a petition, please make sure that:
- It clearly says the purpose of the petition
- It gives the reasons why people are supporting or objecting to the application
- The names and addresses of the people signing the petition can be easily read
- There is a contact name and address for the person organising the petition
Petitions can support as well as oppose planning proposals, and will be published on our website together with other representations on the application. Please note however, individuals appearing on the petition will not be recorded separately on our records and signatures will be redacted before publication. Personal data contained within petitions will be handled in a similar way to individual comments as set out in this guide.
What happens after I submit my comments?
Due to the large number of representations received by the department it is not possible to acknowledge or respond to individual comments.
Comments will be considered by the Case Officer in reviewing the proposals, and any material considerations raised will be evaluated and attributed appropriate weight within the planning determination. Comments are summarised within reports by the Case Officer, and considered accordingly. Should you wish to see how matters raised were considered in the determination of an application, please review the Officers report (for Delegated Decisions) or Planning Committee report which are made available on the Councils website.
You should be aware that the great majority of planning applications are delegated to officers of the Council to determine. However, in certain circumstances they are referred to the Council's Development Management Committee for determination
In the event of an Appeal, copies of comments received will be provided to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration as part of legislative requirements.
Householder applications cover works such as an extension to an existing house or flat, the provision of a garage, summerhouse or shed in a domestic garden, or the installation of any solar panel, domestic wind turbine or antenna which needs specific planning permission.
In the event of an appeal against a refusal of planning permission (which is to be dealt with on the basis of representations in writing), any representations made regarding householder applications will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate (acting on behalf of the Secretary of State), and there will be no further opportunity for comments (at appeal stage).
Data Protection information regarding representations
Any comments made will be processed in accordance with the Councils obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
What is the basis for processing of information?
In commenting on an application, you are requesting that the Local Planning Authority uses the content (including any personal data) in the performance of a public task associated with the planning application process as set out in established legislation. This forms the lawful basis for the processing of information.
What will your information be used for?
All representations received in respect of a planning application will be used in association with the processing of an application, in accordance with the various Town & Country Planning Acts. In particular the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 including any amendments, consequential, subsequent or supplemental legislation such as the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.
We aim to handle your personal data responsibly, and limit information which is publicly available. We will not publish your personal email address, signatures and any contact numbers but we may hold this information on our planning system. In the event that sensitive information is submitted to us as part of a comment or supporting document, such as medical information, education details, or financial data, we will aim to treat it sensitively but may hold this within our planning system.
Your information could also be used to contact you regarding aspects of the planning process for example:-
- To arrange a site visit
- To advise that the application is being heard at a committee
- To advise if an appeal is lodged
Furthermore, there may be times when the Local Planning Authority is required to share your comments (including some personal information) with others in connection with the planning application process.
- Provision of comments to the Planning Inspectorate (acting on behalf of the Secretary of State) as part of an Appeal where the Local Planning Authority is required to provide copies of representations received; or
- Provision of comments to consultees (such as the Highway Authority, or Environment Agency) in order to seek professional opinion; or
- Provision of comments to applicants/agents in order to seek resolution to matters raised within the comment.
If you have any concerns with regard to how your data may be shared, please contact the Case Officer for the application in question.
How is the information held?
All representations received are transferred onto the planning file for the application in question. Planning application files form part of the statutory register which the Local Planning Authority is required to keep in accordance with the Town & Country Planning Acts. Comments may also be required to be kept for defined periods in accordance with other legislation such as the Local Government Access to Information Act.
The Council holds applications files in both electronic and hard-copy format whilst being considered.
Current, un-decided applications are available to view by the public at the Councils Offices by request. Within such files, it is possible to view all comments received on an application. Periodically, post-decision, working files are converted to electronic versions, and subsequently are only held in this format.
Retention of information and right to erasure
The Council holds its register of applications electronically. The Councils website hosts details of all applications since 2015, with other applications being held on other systems maintained by the Council, such applications are available to view by appointment at the Councils offices.
We do not publish comments online, but comments will be held electronically as part of the Councils planning register for as long as they are required to be retained, in accordance with the requirements of statutory legislation and the Councils adopted document retention schedule.
As a result of the requirement to retain information as part of the Councils statutory register of applications, it is not always possible for us to remove personal data which forms part of that register. However, we will consider this on a case by case basis, with due regard to the nature of the data and the application in question. Should you wish us to remove your data, please contact us at Planning@southkesteven.gov.uk and we will review your request and respond accordingly. Please provide us with the details of the application you wish us to review.