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Material planning considerations

When a decision is made on a planning application, only certain issues are taken into account; these are often referred to as ‘material planning considerations’.

Material planning considerations state which issues can be taken into account when a decision on a planning application is made. They aim to ensure that the decisions made are rational ones, based on assessment rather than personal opinion and bias.

The weight attached to material considerations in reaching a decision is a matter of judgement for the decision-maker however the decision-maker is required to demonstrate that in reaching that decision that they have considered all relevant matters. In general, issues which are supported by evidence as opposed to assertions are given greater weight by those making the decision.

A key material consideration is whether or not the proposal is in accordance with planning policy, including the land use zoning in the relevant Local or Area Plan. See Regard will also be had to the characteristics of the site, other relevant strategies and evidence base, and other material considerations, such as the Guidance on Design Considerations for residential developments. The following lists are intended to illustrate the type of issues which are and are not normally deemed to be material considerations. The lists are not exhaustive, however, and only act as a basic guide.

Material Planning Considerations

Issues that may be relevant to the decision:

  • Planning policies which are in the development plan eg Strategic Plan, Area Plans, Local Plans

  • Previous appeal decisions and Planning Inquiry reports

  • Principles of Case Law held through the Courts

  • Loss of light to the detriment of residential amenity

  • Overshadowing/loss of outlook (though not loss of view as such)

  • Overlooking and loss of privacy

  • Highway issues such as traffic generation, vehicular access or highway safety

  • Noise or disturbance resulting from use including proposed hours of operation

  • Smells and fumes

  • Capacity of sewerage and water system, etc

  • Shortfalls in social facilities, eg school places

  • Storage and handling of hazardous materials and development of contaminated land (except as covered by other legislation)

  • Loss or effect on trees

  • Adverse impact on nature conservation interests & biodiversity opportunities

  • Effect on registered buildings and conservation areas

  • Incompatible or unacceptable uses

  • Layout and density of building design, visual appearance and finishing materials

  • Inadequate or inappropriate landscaping or means of enclosure

Non Material Planning considerations

Issues that are not relevant to the decision:

  • Matters controlled under building regulations or other non-planning legislation e.g. structural stability, drainage details, fire precautions, matters covered by licences, etc

  • Private issues between neighbours e.g. land/boundary disputes

  • Problems occurring during construction e.g. noise, dust, vehicles, etc

  • Opposition to the principle of the development when this has been settled by a previous planning approval

  • Applicant’s personal circumstances unless exceptional, such as a disability

  • Previously made comments regarding another application

  • Untrue facts about the development

  • Opposition to business competition

  • Loss of property value

  • Loss of view

  • Legal covenants
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