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How to object to a planning application

If you are opposing a development threat to a wood or tree, you will need to make an objection in writing to the local planning authority.

Addressing your objection

The development management team in your local authority deals with planning applications, appeals and enforcement matters. It is important that you make your objection to the correct authority:

  • In unitary areas (where there is only one council), the unitary authority will deal with all planning applications
  • In two tier authority areas, the county council will deal with minerals, waste and county council developments. The district council will deal with everything else.

Before you start your objection

All planning applications in the UK are decided in line with development plans - at national, local and neighbourhood level - unless there are good reasons not to do so or material considerations indicate otherwise.

You’ll need to be familiar with the related plans and policy. Have a look at our handy summaries of the UK's planning systems:

Before you get started, be sure to:

  1. Check the local plan and assess how it would fit with its policies
  2. See how the development fits with the relevant national policy:
  1. Look out for policies being played-down in the planning application. Developers will focus on the positive elements of planning policy, often dismissing those which may be contrary to their plans
  2. Use your local knowledge – you may be able to expose flaws in the plans. 

How to form your planning objection

Material considerations can form a solid basis for your objection. A material consideration can be anything that relates to planning matters and, when quoted in an objection, must fairly and reasonably relate to the application concerned. It is vital that you understand what is and isn’t a material consideration. The value of your objection could be undermined by including incorrect information.

Material considerations can include:

  • conservation status of the site
  • amenity value – the aspects that affect someone’s appreciation of the area, usually including the pleasantness, aesthetic and cultural and recreational possibilities
  • traffic and noise pollution.

Material considerations do not include:

  • house prices – a development’s impact on property price should not form part of your objection
  • reputations or personalities – planning permission runs with the land so it is irrelevant whether the developer has a good or bad reputation.

Writing your letter

Put the application number and address of the application site at the top of your letter. You must also include your name and address for the objection to be valid. Remember that your comments will be made publicly available.

Clearly state your reasons for objection. The letter does not have to be long; keep to the point and limit it to two sides of A4. If you feel more detailed information is needed you can include it as an appendix. Appending diagrams or photographs can be a useful way to illustrate your points.

Five key things to remember

  1. Give clear and sound reasons for your objection supported by sensible arguments
  2. Quote the relevant national planning policy for your country. For example, in England if you are trying to protect ancient woodland, quote paragraph 175 of National Planning Policy Framework and reference Natural England’s Standing Advice on Ancient Woodland
  3. Identify applicable local and neighbourhood plan policies – especially wildlife and woodland protection policies and those which identify areas that should be kept free from development
  4. Make the rest of the community aware of your concerns. Ask members to send their own letters setting out their individual concerns
  5. Post your objection letter on your website or social media accounts.