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Planning Objections: Frequently Asked Questions

Planning Objection Questions and Answers:-

How many objections are required to refuse permission?

This is a great question. In Scotland, there is not a numerical number that tips a planning application
towards an automatic refusal. The planning case officer will be concentrating on the valid planning
content of the objections rather than the number of objections received. However, if the
application ends up at the committee where local politicians are determining the application then
they may add more weight to the amount of opposition to a scheme raised by their constituents.

Ways to increase my chances of getting a local planning application refused?

Try and have two bites of the apple!

Scottish Planning authorities use powers of delegation so that certain local planning decisions can be
taken by officials instead of being considered by elected members of the authority at committee.
This is to speed up the planning process. Each scheme of delegation is different but some of the
common scenarios are as follows:-

The local authority’s planning case officers will usually determine the applications. However, in
certain circumstances where an application reaches a certain number of objections and the case
officer is intending to approve the application they are required to refer the application to the
elected members. This allows a further opportunity to try and get the planning application refused.
The scheme of delegation may also allow elected members to request the referral of applications to
the committee.

As a consequence, it is always advisable to gain an understanding of the scheme of delegation prior
to writing and formulating your planning objection strategy.

How long do I have to object to a planning application?

A time limit is always set for comments/objections on planning applications. In most cases, the time
limit allows 21 days from neighbour notification. There are longer timescales for comment on
applications that are subject to Environmental Impact Assessment 30 days.

It is worth noting that the expiry period for comments/objections might be increased where there is
a requirement to place an advert in the local press or where the erection of a site notice is required.
Examples, where this might occur, are proposals that may affect a conservation area or affect the
setting of a listed building.

To ensure your objection is taken into account ensure you get them in on time. Missed the
deadline? The local authority might still take the comments into account but it’s not worth the

Is there a fee to submit a planning objection to a Local Planning Authority?

No. There is no fee associated with submitting comment or objections to a planning application in

Is it worth objecting to a planning application?

Although your local planning authority is required to assess the development against the
development plan and in theory this should provide a level of protection. This does not guarantee
that your concerns or issues will be addressed. Applications that are subject to the objection will usually
have additional scrutiny when the recommendation is reviewed by a more senior member of the
planning team.

How to make a planning objection?

There a number of ways to make representation on planning applications in Scotland. Planning
objections or representations should always be made in writing to the applicable Local Authority.
Each local authority is different but the majority will likely accept representation in a variety of ways,
for example, post, hand delivery, e-mail or via their website/planning portal.

Planning Objections Scotland always use e-mail as our preferred method of communication. This
ensures there is an electronic trail to follow. You should also be aware that Council
websites/planning portals may have a word count limit and may not have the ability to include
attachments or photographs.

Is there a standard planning objection form?

There is no standard planning objection form published by the Scottish Government. Some local
planning authorities in Scotland may have an objection web-form on their planning portal that can
be filled out. Planning Objections Scotland always use e-mail as our preferred method of lodging
planning objections as web-forms may curtail the way you can object to an application.

What is a valid planning objection?

A valid planning objection must be made in a written format and contain valid planning reason(s) for
objection. Unfortunately, valid planning reason(s) vary on a case by case basis and there is no
central, comprehensive list of valid objections.

What to say in planning objection?

Struggling to figure out what to say or what you can and cannot object to? A good starting point is
our free planning objection guide. The Planning Objection Scotland ‘Crib Sheet’. This will assist in
understanding some of the technical issues you can include in your objection.

You can also take a look at our document library. This includes some of the standard paragraphs we
utilise in our objections along with supporting documents we utilise to add weight to our
professional objections.

Can a planning objection be withdrawn?

Yes, in the majority of cases a planning objection letter can be withdrawn prior to the determination
of the planning application. The Local Planning Authority will usually seek this in writing from the
person or representative who submitted the objection on their behalf.

Can a local Planning Authority withdraw your objection?

If your letter includes offensive language or is offensive in nature, then the local Planning Authority
will not normally upload or accept them. As a consequence, your objection might be withdrawn.
The local planning authority would normally advise you of any concerns to allow amendments to
your objection prior to them withdrawing your correspondence.

Planning objection letter example

There are a number of planning objection letter examples or standard letters that circulate the

While these can be useful in getting to grips with formatting and the layout of an objection letter it is
always better to ensure that your letter is site-specific setting out your personal concerns and how it
can impact on your life, your property and your surrounding environment. This is far more effective
when it is reviewed by the planning authority, local councillors (at planning committee or at the
Local Review Body) and the Reporter appointed by the DPEA if the application is appealed.

How to write a planning objection letter?

You need to identify the application you are opposing. Quote the application reference number and
the address of the site.

The Local Planning Authority receives a huge amount of correspondence on applications. While the
majority usually object there are some in support and others with general comments. You should
clearly state that you are objecting to the proposal to ensure it is registered on this basis.

Include your name, address and any additional contact information to assist communication with the
Local Authority. If you have concerns with your contact information being made available on the
public file you can highlight this part of your correspondence is confidential. However, all signatures,
personal telephone numbers and personal e-mail addresses should be removed by the authorities in
order to comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Make sure the content of your objection focuses on planning issues and make as many points as you
can. If you are looking for guidance on reviewing the planning application form and drawings then
take a look at our Planning Objection Crib Sheet.

Try and avoid becoming emotional, keep it professional. Be clear and concise on why you are
objecting. To drive home your concerns it is worthwhile numbering, bullet pointing or using
headings. Try and link your concerns back to policies contained within the Council’s Development

Plan or material considerations (Scottish Planning Policy, Planning Advice Notes, Supplementary
Planning Guidance etc).

Try and use evidence to support your objection points such as Scottish planning case law or planning
documents. Take a look at our Planning Objection Document Library.

If you are looking for professional guidance then we can prepare a quote for a planning objection letter.

Can you submit a holding objection to a planning application?

Yes. A holding objection can be submitted and this is a strategy that Planning Objections Scotland
has deployed successfully in the past where there are inaccuracies or a lack of information.
However, you need to be confident that your holding objection will lead to a further consultation
exercise. It is advisable to seek professional planning advice if you are looking to deploy this

How many planning applications are refused in Scotland?

The latest annual planning statistics show that 94.2% of all applications were approved for 2021/22 which leaves 5.8% of applications being refused or withdrawn.

The approval rate has been high over recent years.

In 2020/21, 94.5% of all applications were approved with 5.5% of applications being refused or withdrawn.
In 2019/20 the statistics confirmed that 94.2% of applications were approved with 5.8% refused or withdrawn.
In 2018/19, 93.7% of all applications were approved with 6.3% of applications being refused or withdrawn.

Objecting to a planning appeal

The opportunities to object to a planning appeal being determined by the Planning and
Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) of the Scottish Government will depend on the type of
appeal and the procedures being followed.

People who have already been involved earlier, by being able to influence the council’s decision (or
other actions) being appealed will have their comments passed on to the reporter (by the council) to
be considered in a subsequent appeal. They will also be informed if and when an appeal is made,
will have the chance to give further comments to the reporter and might also be invited to join in
any further appeal procedures.

While it is not the best time to start making views known at this very late stage public comments will
usually, still, be taken into account by the DPEA.

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