CAD Divider

Common reasons why a planning application may be refused

Feb 10, 2023

By Laura Potts MRTPI, Planning Consultant, CAD Planning

Planning permission is an area that can be really difficult for the non-expert to understand. However, while some aspects of planning approval can be subjective, the process is mainly governed by National, Local, and Neighbourhood policies and guidelines. A detailed knowledge of these will form the foundation of a successful strategy for your planning application.

Below we have summarised some of the most common reasons why planning permission is refused. It is not an exhaustive list, but it gives some useful insights into how your Local Planning Authority will assess your application.

Not meeting required quality standards

This is particularly important for new-build homes. There are National Space Standards (NSS) which Local Planning Authorities will have regard to in relation to minimum living standards. One key aspect of this is the guidance on living space requirements, which will be looked at very closely.

Impact on neighbouring amenities

This can include protecting neighbours from overlooking and unreasonable loss of privacy, overbearing and overshadowing, and unreasonable noise and disturbance. Your authority will have local design guidelines which should be followed in this area. You must also avoid overdevelopment of your land. As a guideline, you should not take up more that 50% of your available space, so that you leave room for a garden and parking.

You should do all you can to avoid harming the privacy of your immediate neighbours – such as a new extension that would directly overlook their property. It pays to be considerate to your neighbours when developing your plans.

Will your development lead to a major loss of natural light for your neighbours? This can be a major reason for refusal of your application.

Effect on wildlife and landscape

Planning is likely to be refused if there are harmful effects on the natural habitat or wildlife species. You application also needs to take account of any protected species, such as bats. Trees are also a sensitive area. Tree Protection Orders are legally binding, so if any trees covered by these would be adversely affected, your application will be refused.

Increased pressure on traffic and parking

For example, if a house is being converted into multiple dwellings, this will increase traffic in the local area and raise demand for parking spaces – which may already be limited. Likewise, you application will be refused if the vehicle access to your property would create a hazard for local road safety.

Impact of external appearance

This can be a very subjective area, but your Local Planning Authority will take a view on whether your project would enhance, or detract from, the overall appearance of the surrounding location. This will be a crucial aspect for any development taking place in a conservation area. You can often learn a great deal from other projects that have been approved in your locality, as these may have set a precedent for what is acceptable.

Use of hazardous materials

As you would expect, the safety aspect of the materials you plan to use for your project will be examined in great detail. So it is important to have done a full safety assessment for each material that is involved.

It is the responsibility of the Land Owner to secure a safe development in terms of land contamination or stability issues. Technical reports are required during the application to satisfy the Local Planning Authority on these matters.

Loss of family home

Most local authorities do not like projects which involve converting a family home into flats or smaller dwellings. They may well have a policy of trying to preserve the local housing stock of family homes. Also, this kind of development can create added pressure on local services and amenities.

Financial Contributions

Many applications require a financial contribution/s to be made. If an application does not include a mechanism to secure these (such as a Legal Agreement), then an application can be refused.

Project does not meet the requirements of planning policy

This is the single most important reason for refusal.

An application will not be successful if it is out of step with the local authority’s planning policy or with the National Planning Policy Framework. Both of these documents are freely available to the public, but they can require some very skilled interpretation.

There are some rare occasions when a case can be made for a project which technically falls outside of these guidelines, but you need to be able to demonstrate an extremely strong case for the benefits of the project – and be prepared for a very long process.

You are encouraged to speak to the Local Planning Authority directly to understand if there are any amendments to the scheme which would overcome the reasons for refusal, which in turn would avoid a lengthy appeal process. There may be an opportunity to re-apply (with amendments), possibly under a free re-submission (subject to meeting the correct criteria), which would address the concerns raised.

At CAD Planning, we are experts in managing planning approvals for our clients and navigating them through the whole process to avoid pitfalls such as those detailed above.

Our expert team will explain the whole process to you, make clear recommendations, and develop a strategy to give your planning application the best chance of success.

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