Commenting on planning applications

Where can I view applications?

Applications are available for public inspection on our website, or at the local area planning office. You can also see all recent applications in the Weekly list of planning applications.

Who can comment on applications, and what is the timescale for making comments?

Anyone has the right to comment on an application and have their comments taken into consideration in the determination of the application, however comments must:

Any correspondence cannot be treated in confidence (unless it relates specifically to enforcement matters)

Applications for Planning Permission, Planning Permission in Principle, and Approvals of Matters Specified in Conditions also require the neighbouring properties to be notified about the application, and in some cases they must also be advertised in the local press and/or with a site notice.

In general, the publicity and consultation period last for 21 days. We cannot guarantee that any comments received after this period will be given consideration. During this period, we may also seek the views of specialist internal and external consultees such as the Roads Department, Environmental Health, Historic Scotland, the Conservation Officers and SEPA.

If you do become aware of an application, and you wish to support it, object to it or simply just make a general comment, you can do this in several ways:

 You will receive a confirmation that your comments have been received and notified of the decision once it has been made, or the date of the committee/ hearing if appropriate.

What kind of comments can I make?

When making your comments, please remember that only material planning issues will be considered. These can be:

  • Suitability of the site for the proposed development (e.g. contamination / flooding issues)
  • Visual appearance of the proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings
  • Building materials
  • Height, scale, massing, design, density, and layout of development, particularly in comparison with other buildings in the locality
  • Privacy, over-shadowing, over-development (overcrowding) and lack of natural light
  • Environmental impact - such as pollution and contamination
  • Impact on setting of listed buildings or conservation area
  • Nuisances caused by the development such as noise, smell, fumes, glare from floodlights or headlights of vehicles
  • Adverse safety impact, e.g. the siting of a hazardous installation such as a firework factory next to houses
  • Compatibility with existing uses e.g. the mix of uses found in town centres, such as shops, offices and cafes can be mutually beneficial
  • Economic benefits e.g. creation of jobs
  • The needs of an area (employment, commercial, social or leisure facilities, affordable housing)
  • Provision of suitable access and transportation (including road safety, parking issues, effect on pedestrians and cyclists, and amount of traffic generated)
  • Adequacy of infrastructure (e.g sewerage, drainage and water)
  • Creation of an undesirable "precedent", making it difficult to resist similar proposals elsewhere (but this should not be over-emphasised)
  • Planning history of the site (including decisions on previous planning applications on the same site, particularly appeal or court decisions

Comments need to reasonably relate to the particular application, and principally include the Development Plan, central government policies and guidance, non statutory plans, and the relevant planning comments made by consultees.

Are there any types of comments that you don't take into account?

Items which are NOT material considerations, and are therefore not relevant to planning include:

  • Title restrictions
  • Applicant's lack of ownership of the site
  • Issues covered by other legislation e.g. health and safety regulations, licensing, building control
  • Any factor indicating that there is a lack of any reasonable prospect of the development proceeding

 Can other people see the comments that I make?

When you make a comment on a planning application, your comments are recorded against that application, and are made available online to the public. Personal phone numbers, email addresses and signatures will not be displayed with your comments. There is usually a 2-3 working day delay between comments being received by us, and when they appear online.

Anonymous comments on applications will not be accepted.

What happens after the consultation period?

 Following the 21 day consultation period for an application, area staff assess all feedback, and evaluate it against the Development Plan. The planning officer also carries out a site visit.

The aim of planning is to assist the creation of sustainable developments. It should enable the development of places and buildings that will lead to improvements in the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of the area. To this extent, our planning officers try to work positively and proactively with applicants to add value, improve or amend their scheme to make it acceptable in accordance with the Development Plan, and achieve approval. Around 97% of applications are approved in Argyll and Bute, and we aim to have a culture of negotiation to achieve good quality development on the ground. Negotiations may lead to specific conditions being attached, legal agreements or changes to materials or scale.

 For all applications, the planning officer prepares a report detailing their assessment process, weighing up all factors and feedback into a Report of Handling, which will make a recommendation for the application to approved, approved subject to conditions, or refused.

How are decisions on planning applications made?

To assist in speedy decision making certain non contentious applications can be approved or refused by the Director and their senior planning officers under delegated powers given to them by the Council

The majority of applications are determined using this decision route when a senior officer reveiws the planning officers Report of Handling, and issues a decision notice. Both the decision notice and the Report of Handling are then published online, and anyone who commented on the application will be informed of the outcome.

Certain types of application are not dealt with using delegated powers. These include:

  • Applications where the senior officer or councillor has an interest (e.g. landowner, applicant, etc.)
  • Any application that receives more than 10 individual objections on planning related matters
  • Major Planning applications where there is a departure from the Local Plan
  • Any application that is deemed to be in the public interest

These types of applications are reported to the Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee (PPSL). This committee comprises 15 Elected Councillors from the 4 geographic areas who meet on a monthly basis to review the Reports of Handling, to review the Officers' recommendations, to question officers on their assessment process, and ultimately make a decision. Anyone who has made comments on a specific application will be notified of the time, date and venue of the PPSL where the application will be determined. Anyone is allowed to attend the PPSL as a spectator and listen to the debate, but please note that there is no opportunity for members of the public or people who have made comments to speak at this committee. All correspondence should already have been submitted during the consultation period.

Where councillors consider an application is of significant public interest, requires technical explanation or that a site visit would be useful, a pre-determination hearing and/or site inspection may be convened. At a pre-determination hearing people who have made comments will be allowed to present their views to the councillors.

The members of the PPSL committee may agree with the officers' recommendations or following their questioning and debate opt to reach a different decision. Where an alternative outcome from the officers' recommendation is proposed, the councillors need to provide competent motion based on planning policy. If there is a split in opinion or view a vote may be taken. The minutes from the PPSL meetings, debate and decisions are then published online.