Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Commenting on a Planning Application

Most types of applications that we deal with (e.g. for planning permission, listed building consent or advertisement consent) are open to comment before they are determined, unless the Council’s policy restricts the period for comment. Comments should be received within 21 days of the notification date, as failure to meet the deadline could mean that your comments are not considered, however the Council endeavors to take into account all comments received before an application is decided.

If an application is to be considered by the Planning Committee, comments must be received no later than ten working days prior to the date of that meeting in order that they may be addressed in the officer’s report.

Some applications submitted to the Council are known as ‘Prior Notifications’, which relate to proposals that benefit from permitted development rights granted by the Scottish Government’s General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). Most commonly, they are for small or medium sized agricultural buildings or wind turbines in the curtilage of a house that is more than 100 metres from the curtilage of any other house. As the principle of planning permission has already been granted for this type of development by the GPDO, such applications are not advertised and there is no opportunity for the public to formally comment.

What happens if the application is changed (amended) before it is decided by the Council?

Often the Council negotiates changes (known as amendments) to applications following an initial assessment of a proposal and/or following an assessment of comments or objections made. There is no statutory obligation to consult on amendments but where changes are significant the Council will re-notify neighbours. A period of 14 days is usually allowed for comment to be made. Neighbours will not be re-notified of relatively minor changes unless they are likely to have an impact which is considered to be worse than the original plans.

How can you find out about an application?

Probably the best and quickest way to find out whether there are any applications that may affect you is by using our Public Access facility you can access this by following the link to the ‘Application Search and Submission’ page in the ‘Related Links’ section of this page.  If you don’t have the actual reference number of an application you want to view, you can enter part of an address, such as a road name or the name of a settlement or island which should give you a list of applications to choose from. When you have selected the application you want to view you should be able to see all the public documents relating to that application, including the application form and plans.

If you are a neighbour with a postally addressable property within 20m of an application boundary, you should receive a letter from us giving you details of how to view and comment on the application.

Some applications require a press notice, notably those where there is no postally addressable property on land within 20m of an application boundary; or if the application affects a listed building or its setting; or if the application is within a conservation area; or if it is for certain types of development, such as a structure over 20 metres high, like a wind turbine.

Some applications require a site notice to be placed on or near the application property, notably if it is a listed building or is within a conservations area.

The Council publishes a weekly list of all planning applications received the previous week. The list is available to view on the ‘Weekly, Extant and Decision List’ page found in the ‘Related Links’ section of this page, they are also e-mailed to community councils and others on an email distribution list.

How can you make a comment?

You should submit your comments in writing, either by email to the Development Management team, by the Public Access facility or by post to: Development Management, Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall, KW15 1NY.

Will your comments be taken into account?

Whether your comments are for or against an application, we can only consider them to be valid in planning terms where they raise material planning considerations such as adherence to planning policy; appearance of development; traffic, parking & access issues; effect on residential amenity (noise, smell, overlooking); drainage & infrastructure; and impact on the natural or built environment.

We cannot take into account matters such as the loss of a private view or the effect development might have on property values. Further information on what is and what is not a ‘Material Planning Consideration’ is available to the left of this page.

Under the terms of the Council’s existing Scheme of Delegation an objection will only be considered to be valid if it meets the following criteria:

  • It is in the form of a signed and dated letter or statement or an e-mail indicating the name and postal address of the sender specifically indicating an objection to the application concerned. The letter/statement shall bear a legible name of the signatory and the signatory’s address.
  • It is received by the Council no later than ten working days prior to the date of the meeting of the Planning Committee (or full Council) to which the application is being reported with the exception of any that may be received in a statutory notification period that is still to expire.
  • It contains matters which relate to the application involved and raises matters material in planning terms to the application concerned.

The Scheme of Delegation also says,

  • Where more than one letter/statement of representation per household is received this shall be defined as the Council having received one letter/statement.
  • Where a letter or petition is received which is signed by more than one person, each signatory must provide a valid postal address, otherwise they will not be considered as a valid representation.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, pre-printed letters or cards which are not individually addressed and signed will not be entertained as valid and acknowledged as such. Photocopied standard template letters will be valid as long as they are signed and dated and bear the postal address of the sender.
  • The content of invalid letters/statements will not be referred to in Director’s reports and, similarly, non-material matters referred to in valid letters of representation will not be referred to or taken into account in the determination of the application.
  • The Executive Director of Development and Infrastructure shall, in cases of doubt, determine whether an objection or other representation is valid or timeous.

What happens to your comments?

You should note that your comments cannot be treated as confidential. Material which forms part of the application assessment must by law be available for public inspection, and all representations will be placed on the Council’s planning website with any personal and sensitive information such as signatures, email addresses and telephone numbers will be redacted (masked) prior to publication.

If an application has received valid objections and is recommended for approval, then the application has to be heard and determined by the Planning Committee. If you are an objector you may attend the committee to present your views, and you will be informed of the date of the meeting and the process involved. Reports of applications to be presented to the committee are made publicly available, usually one week prior to the meeting taking place. They are added to the documents related to the relevant application which you can access online. Once a decision has been made on a planning application on which you have commented you will be notified of the decision.

Related Links