Commenting on a Planning Application
Members of the public have the right to comment on most types of planning applications.
To comment on, find out more about the application, view plans and associated document and when the consultation period ends you need to use our Planning Online.
If you do not have access to the internet, you can use the self-service computers in our reception at Bridgwater House, King Square, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 3AR (this is temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19). Council staff can help you use Planning Online if you need assistance to view applications and make comments electronically.
If anyone faces difficulty in submitting comments electronically then Planning Aid England can be contacted on 020 7929 8338 to assist.
Please read our COVID-19 and Planning webpage
Comments submitted to the Council cannot be treated as confidential.
Your name, address and comments will be available to the public on the Council's website (Planning Online) and your comments will be a public document. E-mail addresses, telephone numbers and signatures will be removed before publication onto our website.
We will only use the information for the purpose of dealing with and considering the relevant planning application. We aim to comply with current Data Protection legislation; please refer to our Planning Privacy Notice Planning and Enforcement Privacy Notice.
Publicising and Notifications of New Planning Applications
Publication - applications will be available via the Council's Planning Online website to view and, where we are statutorily required to do so we will also publish in the local newspaper.
Neighbour Notifications - letters will be to posted to properties that directly adjoin the application site. For large scale/major applications we also place adverts in a local newspaper. You can also use our Planning Online website to search and sign up for email alerts about new applications in your area.
For most types of applications we allow a minimum of 21 days notification from:
- the date notification letters are sent to neighbours
- the date a site notice is displayed
- the date an advertisement appears in a local paper
Statutory consultees are normally given 21 days.
The notification and consultation periods are calculated from the date when we last notified or consulted. This means that after the notification letters are sent to residents the consultation period could be extended depending on the timing of the press advert and site notice. The date when the consultation period ends is shown on our Planning Online website as the 'Comments Welcome By' date, comments received after the date may not be taken into account.
What is the difference between a Neighbour/Interested Party and a Consultee?
Neighbours and Interested Parties
Any member of the public who makes a relevant representation becomes an Interested Party.
Statutory consultees: are professional bodies that Local Planning Authorities are required by law to consult prior to a decision being made on a planning application and these bodies hold the power to affect the result of the application.
Non-statutory consultee: sometimes for planning policy reasons the Local Planning Authorities require the engagement of other consultees who, whilst not designated in law, are likely to have an interest in a proposed development.
When submitting your comments, it is important to note the contents of your representation/comments must not:
- Contain any personal names, please use words such as applicant, neighbour, etc.
- Contain any personal information (including medical data for yourself or others) that you would not wish to be made public such as you're living on your own, you're on holiday next week or that you have a specific medical condition etc.
- Contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful, inflammatory or defamatory of any person (see below Defamatory or Offensive Comments section).
- Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexuality orientation, or age (see below Defamatory or Offensive Comments section).
- Promote violence, illegal activity or sexually explicit material.
- Infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person for example do not include HM Land Registry maps as we cannot publish them as part of your comment due to copyright.
- Include copies of previous planning applications, instead provide the application number(s) and state why they are relevant.
- Include whole documents that are available on the internet, either state the document name(s) and the website it is on or reference the document(s) and include relevant paragraphs.
- Be likely to deceive any person or be used to impersonate anyone, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with anyone.
- Be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence.
- Be threatening, abusive or invade another's privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.
- Be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person.
- Give the impression that they emanate from us (the Council), if this is not the case.
What should I include in my comments?
When commenting on planning applications, please remember that the council can only take into account material planning considerations. This list is not exhaustive but it gives an idea of the sort of things that would be classed as a material planning consideration:
- Car parking provision.
- Design, including appearance, layout, scale, density and materials.
- Highway safety issues and/or traffic generation.
- Impact on important trees.
- Impact on the character or appearance of a Conservation Area or a Listed Building.
- Local drainage or flooding issues.
- Planning policies and guidance.
- Loss of important open spaces or community facilities.
- Noise disturbance, smells, obtrusive lighting or other impacts on amenity.
- Overdominance, overshadowing and loss of light.
- Proposed landscaping.
- The planning history of a site.
What can't I comment on?
Comments that are not material planning considerations will not be taken into account. Examples of what is not considered a material planning consideration could be:
- Loss of value to your property.
- Loss of a view.
- Boundary and neighbour disputes.
- Impact on private drainage systems.
- Inappropriate or personal comments.
- Breach of covenant.
Defamatory or Offensive Comments
Defamatory comments are comments that cause an adverse effect on a person's reputation.
- Libel, which is a form of defamation, is the publication of a statement which exposes a person to hatred, ridicule or contempt, or which causes him/her to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him/her in their office, trade or profession in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally.
- Offensive comments include comments that discriminate against individuals on racial grounds including their race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, on grounds of religion, sexuality or disability. Gypsies and other minorities are racial groups.
- Offensive comments can also include allegations of corruption.
Where comments are received that are considered to be defamatory or offensive, the following approach should be taken by the responsible officer:
- The offending words in the letter will not be published and will be removed by the Council unless the writer wishes to resubmit it in an acceptable form.
- In the event that there is any confusion as to what comments are considered defamatory or offensive, the responsible officer shall determine this in consultation with the Legal section;
- If a member of the public notifies the Council that defamatory or offensive comments have been made by another party and are included on our website, the wording should be considered. If such comments are upheld as defamatory or offensive and have been published, they should be withdrawn from the public domain with immediate effect.
How do I comment on a planning application?
Given current circumstances the way to ensure comments are received and actioned in a timely manner is through electronic methods.
We can only accept written comments, which can be submitted in a number of ways:
Via Planning Online
- Go to Planning Online
- Search for the planning application.
- Select the "View Details".
- Scroll to the "Comments Welcome By:", if the date has not passed the following text will be displayed "If you would like to submit a comment please view the Planning Comment page", click on the wording "Planning Comment".
- A new window will open where you can enter your details.
- Select your Opinion (Support, Object, Comment).
- Provide your comments (to prevent any timing out issues, we recommend you draft your comments in a word editor, then copy and paste into the comments box).
- Once you have completed your comments press "Submit" - you will see an onscreen confirmation that you comment has been submitted and you should receive a copy of you comment via email and an automated confirmation email.
- Please quote the Application Number and clearly state if you are objecting or supporting the application, please also include your postal address as anonymous representations will not be considered.
- E-mails with attachments should be no bigger than 10mb.
- Send you email to: email@example.com
- You should receive an automated confirmation email.
If you can only respond by letter please note there will be a delay in processing any comments. Send letters to: Planning Comments, Sedgemoor District Council, Bridgwater House, King Square, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 3AR.
- We often receive large numbers of comments on planning applications and we are unable to enter into correspondence on issues raised.
- We are not able to acknowledge receipt of your comments or provide notification of the decision. We actively encourage you to use our Planning Online website and subscribe to applications that you are interested in.
What about petitions?
If you decide to organise a petition, please make sure that:
- It clearly states the planning application number
- It clearly states the purpose of the petition
- It gives the reasons why people are supporting or objecting to the application
- The names and addresses of the people taking part in the petition can be easily read
- There is a contact name and address for the person organising the petition (this is the only person who will be corresponded with)
Petitions can support as well as oppose planning proposals and will be published on our Planning Online website under Interested Parties Replies on the application. Please note however, individuals appearing on the petition will not be recorded separately on our records or receive any correspondence. Signatures will be redacted before publication.
What happens after my comments are submitted?
- Your comment will be review and redacted in-line with the above and made available to view on our Planning Online website;
- Please allow 5 working days* for comments to be viewable on our website.
*We are currently receiving a very high number of comments which is causing a backlog of approx 10 working days, please accept our apologies for this delay.
- For neighbours/interested parties' comments:- we put the sender's postal address as the document description, even if it appears in the letter/comment itself. We do this as it makes it easier to find the comment and because contributor details are part of the public record for an application.
If there are multiple comments from the same postal address, this may be because comments have been received from multiple occupants at the same address or multiple comments from the same person, each comment will be recorded separately on Planning Online.
- If there is no postal address and the comment was submitted via email, the document description will read "Email Address Only".
- Please allow 5 working days* for comments to be viewable on our website.
- The Case Officer will review your comment alongside relevant planning polices and guidance before a decision is made.
- As a result of comments, the Case Officer may request further details from the applicant/agent or may re-advertise and/or re-consult appropriate bodies.
- Most applications are dealt with under delegated powers, where the decision is made by an officer following a full assessment and any necessary consultation with the Ward Member(s)and Parish/Town Council(s). However, some applications will be referred to the Development Management (DM) Committee. For further details please see Our Planning Process webpage.
- If an appeal against the application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, we will inform you and we will forward a copy of your comments to them and the applicant/agent. The Planning Inspectorate will publish your comments on their website.
Remember, whilst we endeavour to consider all comments received, we cannot guarantee that comments received after the public consultation period will be considered.
What if I want to remove/change my comments?
If you change your mind about the comment you have sent us and want it removing completely from the application, you should contact the planning case officer in writing (either by post or by email). This is to stop people asking us to remove your comments without your permission.
We recommend that you subscribe to the application via Planning Online where you will be able to check the progress of the application, and receive automated updates.