Applications v Objections
The development of commercial and residential buildings across the UK is thriving, with 870,000 planning applications received by local councils since the start of 2017. That’s 893 new requests every day, yet those 870,000 applications have generated almost 2 million objections – an average of 2.2 objections per application. Of course, it’s easy to label objectors as NIMBYs – ‘not in my back yard’. But when a new development threatens to disrupt local communities, it’s understandable that people may want to have a say on whether the project receives the go-ahead or not.
The type of developments requiring planning permission varies enormously, from small home extensions, to the construction of new housing estates, hotels, hospitals, retail outlets and car parks. And when planning is requested for the development of infrastructure projects such as a wind farm or a landfill site, the level of objections can skyrocket.
Around the UK
Regionally, the East of England has the highest number of planning applications per capita, with 19.3 applications per 1,000 residents over the last three years. London planning authorities have received the highest number of objections, with a staggering 482,000 raised since 2017. While South Lanarkshire Council in Scotland ‘boasts’ the highest number of complaints for a single planning application – when 7,080 people registered their objections for the proposed Hamilton Incinerator. Contrary to the common perception that planning authorities rarely listen to local residents, the level of complaints was so high that in June 2019, the developers in Hamilton were eventually forced to abandon their project.
The nature of objections varies almost as much as the range of developments. The most common cause for complaint concerns private rights of access, closely followed by loss of view, boundary disputes, and the potential impact of construction work on local residents and businesses. Of course, it’s the job of local planners to listen to the arguments on both sides, and to make sound decisions based on the facts.