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Step 3 - Consultation and publicity

Consultation letters are sent to neighbours and, where applicable, various bodies to obtain their expert view. We allow 24 days for comments to be made before a decision is considered. Other consultees, such as town and parish councils and government agencies have up to 28 days to make their comments. Comments made relating to matters which are not relevant will be discounted.  If it were to do otherwise, it would be acting unlawfully and its decision would be open to challenge in the Courts

What can be considered?

In considering a planning application, the council has a statutory duty to have regard to the provisions of:

The Local Plan

To the extent that development plan policies are material to an application for planning permission the decision must be taken in accordance with the development plan unless there are material considerations that indicate otherwise.

View the Local Plan 2030

You may wish to consult them to see if there are any proposals or policies which are relevant to the application/s you are interested in.

Any other material considerations

As well as any relevant provisions of the Development Plan, the Council must take into account "any other material considerations".  This means considerations which are relevant to land use planning.  Objections to a planning application which reflect on the writer's personal and private interests would normally be discounted.  Examples of private interests which tend to be raised in representations but which the council cannot normally take into account are:

  • loss of view
  • infringement of rights of light
  • breach of a covenant attaching to the land
  • fear that property may be devalued
  • business person's fear trade may be lost to a competitor.

However, it may be that your concern is justified and could legitimately be taken into account if expressed in a different way.  For example, whilst a view from a property and rights of light are private issues, it is a matter of public interest that dwellings should have reasonable standards of amenity.  It is therefore relevant to consider whether a proposed building or extension would be overbearing in the outlook from a property, whether it would cause unreasonable loss of light and whether one dwelling would be directly and unreasonably overlooked from another.

For your assistance, some other examples of typical material considerations are set out below but this list is by no means exhaustive:

  • The effect of a proposal on road safety.  Is there a safe access to the site?  Would the traffic created by the development cause significant hazards to drivers or pedestrians?
  • The potential for a proposed building or use to cause disturbance, including any increased traffic flows, to the neighbours or in the locality
  • The impact of a building development on the character of its surroundings.  How would a building fit into its setting in terms of its bulk and its scale?
  • The effect of a proposal on nature conservations interests
  • The effect of a proposal on the character or appearance of a conservation area or on the setting of a listed building

Further guidance is available on the www.gov.uk. Alternatively, please speak to the planning officer for the application or a member of the Planning and Development service.

How do I comment on an application?

Online is the best method to comment as it makes sure we receive your comments quickly. It also allows us to protect your personal data more easily.  

Guidance and advice on using our Planning and Building Control Application Search tool which includes facilities to comment on applications, can be found here:

Online Planning and Building Control Application Search Help webpage.

There are alternative methods to submit your comments if online submission is not your preference. These are:

  • Email
  • Post: by letter to Planning Applications, Ashford Borough Council, Civic Centre, Tannery Lane, Ashford, TN23 1PL.
  • Make your views known to your Borough Councillor, Parish or Town Council.

If your preference is to submit a manual representation by post, please ensure you allow sufficient time for us to receive your comments before the deadline.

Are there any applications I can't comment on?

Some applications do not require statutory consultation or publicity and therefore, whilst visible on the public register online, they will not be open to formal consultation.  This applies to the following application types:

  • Lawful Development Certificates (proposed)
  • Prior notifications of any kind (NB these are different to prior approvals)
  • Statutory notifications from utility companies – e.g. overhead lines, Network Rail,
  • Discharge of conditions
  • Non-material amendments
  • Scoping and screening opinions
  • Pre-app enquiries

Publication of comments

You should be aware that if you write about an application, the Council is obliged to make your letter available for inspection by the public.  This will include its publication on the internet whilst the application or any subsequent appeal is being considered. Publication will include your name and address. This detail is required if we are to take your comments in to account.  Your signature, telephone number and e-mail address, if included in your comment, will not be published. Personal data may be retained for up to 3 years and used for further consultation should revised /new applications for the same site be submitted in future. For more information on your rights please see the council’s privacy statement.

Although the council reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments from the web site as necessary, such comments may still be viewable prior to any removal and viewable by visitors to the Civic Centre. It is therefore your sole responsibility to ensure you do not include defamatory remarks in your comments as you could be held legally responsible for them in the future.

Where on the website will my comments be published?

There are two locations comments on applications can be viewed:

The majority of comments, including those received via the online commenting tool, will be visible on the relevant application under the 'comments' tab.  Please refer to our guidance below on how quickly these will be visible.

Comments that have been submitted in document format will be added to the 'files' tab.

How quickly will comments be published?

Whilst comments submitted using our online comments facility are received directly in to the back office system for the relevant application and due consideration by the officer, they are not published immediately. 

Comments are usually processed and visible on our website within 5 working days of receipt.   

Please allow at least 10 working days before contacting us. if you are concerned your comment is not visible online. 

Comments on procedural matters/individual officers/elected members

If you wish to question or comment upon the conduct of individual officers or elected Councillors, or upon procedural matters, these should be made via the council's formal complaints procedure and not be included in comments on applications.

Advertisements, where required, are placed in the appropriate local paper and on site.

Others can view plans and see how to comment on an application online.