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Material planning considerations

What are material considerations? 

In short, material planning considerations are matters or planning policies which legislation and the courts have determined should be taken into account when deciding an application. 

They comprise a whole host of planning documents including:  

  • National Policy – including National Planning Policy Framework, National Planning Policy Guidance, other policy documents and Written Ministerial Statements
  • Adopted Local Plan
  • Neighbourhood Development Plans
  • Masterplans/area action plans
  • Supplementary Planning Guidance
  • Emerging Local Plan (normally a material consideration once it’s at a fairly advanced stage of preparation). 

There are also a variety of other topics which can constitute material considerations including (but not limited to): 

  • Layout and density of building
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Government policy
  • Disabled persons' access
  • Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
  • Nature conservation
  • Overlooking/loss of privacy as well as loss of light or overshadowing
  • Parking and highway safety
  • Traffic and noise
  • Effect on listed buildings and conservation areas

What are NOT material considerations? 

The scope of what can constitute a material consideration is very wide and so the courts often do not indicate what cannot be a material consideration.  However, as planning is intended to protect the public interest, private matters such as property value are not material considerations.  Other matters which are generally not held to be planning considerations include the following:

  • Devaluation of property
  • Loss of a private view
  • Breach of a restrictive covenant – these are private law matters and not about planning
  • Moral considerations (for example, religious objections to licensed premises)
  • Political or ideological opinions
  • Whether or not the applicant owns the site
  • Issues covered by other legislation (eg Building Regs) 
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