04 Sep How to Object to a Town Planning Application
First, you need to see the plans. You may have to go to the council office or you may be able to view something online. Contact the council to find out.
To object or not to object
Now that you have seen the plans you need to decide if you want to object. To help make that decision it is useful to understand what the council is looking for. In advertising a proposal they want to know if the development will impact on you, as a neighbour.
A few examples of impacts include:
- Loss of privacy or overlooking from proposed windows into your house or backyard.
- Shading of your backyard.
- Visual impact through a large, bulky or close building.
- Visual impact on the streetscape.
- Car parking or traffic problems (though this is generally only applicable for very large developments or where a reduction in the car parking requirements is being sought).
The types of impact that a proposal may have on you become the reasons or “grounds” of your objection, and it is those details you want to communicate to the council. So, if you believe that the development will impact on you, you can object. Once you object you will be informed of the final outcome and may have the right to appeal a decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
It is important to know that an understanding of town planning is not necessary in order to lodge an objection. You are not expected to know the planning regulations, or to use specific language. It is fine to talk in plain english as the town planner will interpret it for you. They are not looking for you to assess the application, just to provide feedback on your perspective.
Also, before deciding to object, you should be aware that objections become part of the application and therefore are not private or anonymous. It is common practice for the council to give a copy (which will include your details) to the applicant so that they can respond and possibly modify the proposal to satisfy objections. If you have privacy concerns you can talk to the council.
How to object
Most Council’s have an objection form that you can use. This can be useful as it guides you through all the information you need to provide, however, you don’t have to use it. Feel free to write your own letter or email if you prefer, but make sure to include the application number and street address of the proposal as well as your own contact details.
In structuring your objection it can be useful to use numbering, bullets or headings to highlight each of your concerns/reasons. If possible try to type it up as well, as deciphering a handwritten note can be time consuming and could lead to misunderstanding!
Finally, a brief note on petitions. Sometimes a neighbour might organise a petition against a development. This is a valid form of objection, provided that each petitioner writes down their name and address. However, it is by its very nature a rather generalised objection, so putting in an individual objection might be a better way to get your concerns considered. Furthermore, only the organiser of the petition will be communicated with by the council, with the expectation that the organiser will communicate with the signatories. Therefore you may be better informed along the way if you put in an individual objection.
When a development is advertised in your neighbourhood remember to consider how it may impact on you and your property when viewing the plans. If you decide to object make sure you include the details of the proposal as well as your contact details and be clear and concise in your writing. Finally it is important to remember that a useful objection can’t be anonymous and that your details and objections may be made known to the applicant.