The most likely source of objections about a planning application is the people living closest to it. One or more objections do not mean your application will be rejected, but it’s better to have as few objections as possible. After all, consulting the people affected by the proposals is a kind thing to do. Sometimes protests from neighbours are based on misunderstanding and misinformation, which could be avoided entirely if you spoke with them before making your application. Sometimes it’s fear for their environment, which in some cases might be understandable and avoidable.
Consult with local residents
Consulting with local residents is a matter to be judged in each case and depends on your relationship with them. If you are on good terms, you might want to bring up the proposal as early as just an idea to see how people react, or when you start getting draft drawings done. You could also pop by for a cup of tea to discuss the proposal with those who live nearby.
On the other hand, if you suspect that someone will reject the proposal regardless of what it is, or you don’t have a good relationship with that person, it might be best not to bring it up at all. An early warning gives them time to prepare their opposition and lobby, other neighbours, before the application goes public.
How far afield to consult will depend on the scale and potential impact of the project. For example, speaking to your neighbours when considering the possibilities for a rear extension might be just enough. However, if you’re drawing up plans for a new house, talking to neighbours in either direction on each side of the road and properties at the back could be helpful. If you don’t know your neighbours or aren’t comfortable knocking on doors, you can simply send out introductory letters to introduce yourself and your project.
Talking to your neighbours
If you want to show your neighbours why you’re suggesting a certain design, explaining what you’ve planned and showing how it will preserve their interests, like not obstructing their view or taking windows out of their garden, is essential. It can be hard for people to understand the content with drawings, so we’ll take them outside and point out where walls and windows will be located. You should always ask your neighbours if they have any concerns, but remember that some people might not be comfortable talking about those concerns in front of others. If a neighbour does raise something, consider whether this is something you would be willing to change in order to accommodate them. Many times changes can make everyone happy. To avoid confusion, you may want to schedule another meeting with the neighbours after any possible updates are made.
You may want to consider asking your neighbours whether or not they would be willing to provide written support for your proposal. One way to do this is by enabling them to write a letter, which is then submitted along with the proposal or even sent on after the proposal is filed.
Even if they would love to write something, there’s always the possibility that they’ll take their time. To ensure you don’t forget about providing this supportive letter, consider drafting a letter and sending it over to them in advance. Remember to customize each letter as much as possible so it doesn’t seem like a generic and impersonal mistake!
One way to get neighbours on-side is to contact them and ask what they think of your plans. If you do this, you might want to write it down in case they mention any information that could be useful to include in a planning application letter or statement later down the line.