A guide to planning applications in the City
Most of the residents of Winchester City will be affected by a planning application at some point and many will wish to find out more and make a comment. If this is the first time you have ever searched for information about or commented on a planning application, you may not be sure exactly how to go about it. The Trust has produced this guide which we hope will help to make the process clearer.
How do you find out about a planning application?
The thing that may first alert you to a planning application in your area is an orange A4 notice posted at the site. This has brief information on the application, including important details such as its reference number and the deadline by which comments have to be submitted. The City Council also publishes a weekly list of planning applications in the City, which we post on our website – click here for the weekly list.
These days everything is done online – all the applications, documentation, comments and decisions are in the planning section of Winchester City Council’s website, www.winchester.gov.uk/planning.
Who makes the decisions?
Only large or controversial applications are decided by the City Council’s Planning Committee. This Committee is made up of councillors from all over Winchester District. The rest are decided by officers from the Development Management team of the City Council’s Planning Department. Each application is allocated a case officer from the team.
If an application goes to the Planning Committee, the councillors on the Committee discuss the application, taking into account the case officer’s report and recommendation, and then reach a decision by voting.
If you have a real concern about a planning application, you should contact your ward councillor, whose contact details can be found on the City Council’s website. Click here to go to the relevant page. If an application is controversial, your ward councillor may be able to ensure that the application goes to the Planning Committee. Planning Committee meetings are open to the public and you are entitled to speak at the beginning of the meeting to make your own points. The time allocated for members of the public to speak is only six minutes in total (three minutes for all those objecting to the application and three minutes for all those supporting it) and has to be shared, so it is important to be succinct and make sure your points are relevant.
Grounds for objection
When objecting to a particular proposal, it is important to make your objection on valid planning grounds as the City Council has to have a legally defensible reason to refuse the application.
On highways issues, it is Hampshire County Council that is the highways authority and so is responsible for commenting on traffic issues, but local experience of traffic and parking problems is often very relevant.
Objections that are generally valid on planning grounds include:
The proposed development is contrary to national, regional or local planning policy.
The proposed development is not in keeping with the stylistic context or scale of the local area.
The proposed development will have a negative impact on the amenity of another property, because of noise, overlooking, overshadowing, smells, light pollution, loss of daylight, loss of privacy, vibration or late-night activities.
The proposed use is not compatible with existing uses, for example an industrial use in a residential area, or vice versa.
The development may cause traffic, access or safety problems.
The proposal reduces the amount of car parking available or provides insufficient parking space.
There is a history of rejecting similar developments in the area.
Approval would create a precedent meaning that it would be difficult to object to similar proposals in the future.
Local infrastructure is not adequate to service the proposed development.
The proposal is a piecemeal development that would prevent proper development of the area.
The proposal will have an economic impact, such as impacting on tourism or on small businesses.
The proposed development will impact on a listed building or a conservation area.
The layout and density of the proposed development is inappropriate.
Proposed advertising creates visual clutter.
The proposed development includes insufficient landscaping.
The proposed development will demolish or adversely affect an ancient monument or site of cultural or architectural value.
The proposed development will damage the natural environment or will result in significant loss of trees or the loss of trees for which tree protection orders are in place.
The cumulative impact of the development when considered alongside other development will have an adverse impact on the area.
The type of housing proposed will not satisfy local housing needs.
Objections that are generally not valid include:
Private issues such as boundary disputes.
Issues concerning building regulations.
Reduction in the value of properties affected by the proposed development.
Impacts resulting from the construction of the development.
Loss of existing views.
The possibility of the proposed development causing problems in the future.
The personal or business circumstances of the applicant.
Problems with notification of the application.
Competition with existing companies.