How to comment on planning applications

Guidance for making a comment on a planning application

Comments (also known as a representation) for current applications can be submitted online, by emailing or by post to Strategic Development and Planning, North Devon Council, Lynton House, Commercial Road, Barnstaple, EX31 1DG.

Please quote the planning application number in all correspondence.

Due to the large number of representations received by the department it is not possible to respond to individual comments. You can track the progress of the planning application using our online planning tracker.

Commenting on a Planning Application

Comments should be submitted during the 21 day consultation period in order that they may be fully considered. However, they may be submitted up until the day the decision is made, although this is not recommended because it gives our officers very little time to consider any comments made. If the application has been scheduled to be heard at the Planning Committee, in order for the information to be made public and to be given weight at the meeting, it should be submitted by no later than before 12 pm on the Monday preceding the meeting of the committee  at which the specific application will be discussed. Any additional information submitted after this time may only be referred to as part of  a verbal update at the Planning Committee by officers but, as other interested parties may not have seen this material, it will be treated as information only and will carry only very limited weight. 

Comments cannot be treated as confidential and all representations are published on our website and available for inspection at our office. Please do not include any information that you would not wish to be made public. Please ensure your comments are not offensive, inflammatory or libellous, if they are, they will not be considered by the Case Officer and your representation may be returned to you, or edited by us prior to publication.

Contributions must not:

  • Contain any material which is defamatory of any person
  • Contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory
  • Promote sexually explicit material
  • Promote violence
  • Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexuality orientation, or age
  • Infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person
  • Be likely to deceive any person
  • Be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence
  • Promote any illegal activity
  • 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
  • Be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person
  • Give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or
  • Advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse

What should my comments include?

You should include your name and address with your comments but no other personal details such as private telephone numbers, email addresses or signatures. If these are submitted they will be removed prior to publication.

All comments received are considered but only those which raise material planning considerations are taken into account when determining the application. You should consider whether the proposal would affect local buildings and facilities as well as whether the existing use of the land which should be protected.


If you are making an objection we can only take into account valid reasons to object. These are known as 'material planning considerations'. Before making an objection you should check that your objection is valid.

What are material planning considerations?

Examples of material planning considerations include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • Highway safety and traffic levels
  • Flood risk
  • Impact on the appearance of the area
  • Design, appearance, layout and materials
  • Overlooking and loss of privacy
  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Noise, disturbance and smells resulting from the proposed development
  • Conservation of buildings, trees and open land
  • Need to safeguard the countryside or protected species of plant or animal
  • Local/Government Policy and Guidance

The Case Officer will not be able to consider:

  • The developer's identity, morals, motives or past record
  • The perceived loss of property value
  • Loss of a private view
  • Inconvenience or other problems caused by building works
  • Private neighbour disputes
  • Impact on private drainage systems

What about petitions?

If you think a lot of people agree with you about a planning application you can organise a petition.

If you decide to organise a petition, please make sure that:

  • It clearly says 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 signing the petition can be easily read
  • There is a contact name and address for the person organising the petition

Petitions can support as well as oppose planning proposals and will be published on our website. Please note however, individuals appearing on the petition will not be recorded separately on our records.

What happens after I submit my comments?

Most applications are determined by the Chief Planning Officer under delegated powers. All representations received are reviewed alongside relevant planning policies and guidance, prior to a decision being made. It is possible that the Case Officer may request further information from the applicant as a result of comments and as part of the assessment of the proposal.

An individual response to comments and representations on an application is not able to be provided because of the amount the department receives. However, you can track the progress of the planning application using our online planning tracker.

Planning applications which are not dealt with under delegated powers go before the Planning Committee for determination. Planning Committee is held once a month and is open to public attendance. If an application is to be determined by Planning Committee and you have made a representation, you will be notified and given the opportunity to speak should you wish - a maximum of six supporters and six objectors of the application may speak at committee. The applicant or agent and representative of the parish council are also invited to speak at committee. 

In the event of a Planning Appeal, any representations made in respect of the planning application will be sent to the Secretary of State. Householder planning applications are dealt with under a fast track process however and there will be no further opportunity to comment. For all other appeals you will receive notification of how to comment further.