Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House offers her top 10 tips for avoiding the title of NIMBY when commenting on a development proposal in the October edition of the Northern Insight Magazine. If you’re in doubt of what Material Planning Considerations are please also read our download.
Everyone is a NIMBY’ bold title to start an article with but it’s true we need waste recycling centres and sewerage treatment plants but we don’t want them built next to OUR home. The label of NYMBY conjures up derogatory connotations which isn’t always the case.
So, what is a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), well, to a developer they’re generally perceived as a pain in the proverbial but essentially they can be anyone who is strongly against a development. Often a so-called NIMBY has genuine issues and questions about potential impacts of a development. The term NIMBY comes with an inbuilt sense of contempt. People are sometimes viewed as selfishly putting their own interests ahead of the wider benefits a development could have. So how do people with genuine concerns put this across to developers and the people who make the decisions without gaining the label NIMBY? Here are my top 10 tips:
1 Be informed, don’t take the word of a neighbour or friend find out about a development yourself view plans at your local Council offices or online, and think carefully about how it affects you;
2 Know what planning policies relate to the land/buildings/area there is little point objecting to a housing development on a site which is allocated for housing, you need to be aware of your local and national policies;
3 Be aware of timescales, Council’s generally give 21 days to comment on an application, make sure any comments you have are submitted within the timescale;
4 Avoid knee-jerk responses which are irrelevant, know what material planning considerations are as Councils only take these into account. Thoughtful, well considered objections are much more likely to be affective, if you’re in doubt my website has a summary of What are material planning considerations?;
5 Avoid using a standard letter or relying on a petition, these hold limited weight. A letter/email citing your own reasons will carry more weight in the consideration of an application;
6 Don’t get personal, angry or blame the Planning Officer for the application, they didn’t submit it however it’s their duty to determine the application;
7 – Talk to the Planning Officer, ask them what their view is on the proposal, you can gain a lot by having an open and honest conversation;
8 Gather support, speak to your neighbours, lobby your local Councillor and in some controversial cases your MP for support, don’t expect Councillors to stop the process but they can voice constituent’s concerns in a political arena but this sometimes doesn’t mean a development does not go ahead;
9 Know the process, is the decision going to be taken by the Planning Officer (delegated) or by the Planning Committee? You have an opportunity to speak to a Councillor to ‘call in’ a planning application to the Planning Committee, however the rules and procedures vary by Council so know your local process and how you can be involved in any Committee.
10 Know when to stop, the ultimate decision is not going to please everybody. Councils have a responsibility to listen to objector perspectives, understand them, and weigh up a scheme using their planning judgement it’s not personal, its planning! If a scheme is allowed only a Judicial Review can quash a decision and if refused a planning appeal may be progressed so be prepared it may not be over.