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Commenting on an Application

It is possible to submit a representation to most application types administered by Development Management (e.g. planning permission, listed building consent, advertisement consent).

To be regarded as a valid representation, it must be received by the Council before the expiry of any statutory notification or publication period or, where no such period exists, within 21 days of publication of the weekly list, whichever is the later. Any representations received after that date will be considered late.

Note that other submission types are submitted to Development Management, that are not ‘applications’. It is not possible to submit representations in relation to these other submission types. This includes, but not limited to, submissions for prior notifications (where an applicant must notify the planning authority before exercising permitted development rights), and requests for screening or scoping opinions in relation to The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017.

Being aware of an application

You can search for applications by using the Public Access facility, following the link to the ‘Application Search and Submission’ page in the Related Links section of this page. If you don’t have the reference number of a specific application, you can enter part of an address, such as a road name or the name of a settlement or island to narrow the search. Selecting the application should allow access to all public documents relating to that application.

Neighbour notification requirements apply to applications for planning permission, planning permission in principle, and applications for approval of matters specified in conditions. Notice is to be sent to premises on "neighbouring land". The term "neighbouring land" is defined in regulation 3 as "an area or plot of land (other than land forming part of a road) which, or part of which, is conterminous with or within 20 metres of the boundary of the land for which the development is proposed." The boundary of the land for which development is normally indicated by a red line on the application plans and need not be a property boundary. The premises on neighbouring land to which neighbour notification should be sent do not have to be within 20 metres of the boundary of the land for which development is proposed. Such premises can be elsewhere on the neighbouring land. In using the term "area or plot", the aim is to identify this as a discrete piece of land. Where such neighbouring land consists of open fields or countryside with no obvious premises on it, then an advert would be necessary. Neighbours have at least 21 days to make representations before the application can be decided.

Some applications are subject to newspaper publication, including land with no premises within the area of ‘neighbouring land’, Schedule 3 (formerly ‘bad neighbour’) developments, applications for listed building consent, conservation area consent, development affecting the setting of a listed building or the character or appearance of a conservation area, and applications subject to Environmental Impact Assessment.

Some applications require a site notice to be placed on or near the application site.

The Council keeps a register of applications, and prepare weekly lists and provides a list of extant applications.

How to make a comment

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

Valid representations

In accordance with the approved Planning Scheme of Delegation, a valid representation (letter or statement) must meet the following criteria:

  • Be 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.
  • Be received by the Council before the expiry of any statutory notification or publication period or, where no such period exists, within 21 days of publication of the weekly list, whichever is the later.
  • 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.
  • To be valid a representation must contain matters which relate to the application involved and raise matters material in planning terms to the application concerned.
  • The content of invalid letters/statements will not be referred to in Corporate 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 Corporate Director for Neighbourhood Services and Infrastructure shall, in cases of doubt, determine whether an objection or other representation is valid or timeous.

Only ‘material considerations’ will be considered. A material consideration is a planning issue which is relevant to the application and can include national policy, the design of the proposed development, or the effect of the plan on the environment. The planning authority must decide how important these material considerations are. A list of example matters is available in the ‘More pages in this section’. Matters that are not material planning considerations such as loss of a private view, land ownership, or the effect development might have on a property value, will not be considered.

Managing submitted comments

Note that submitted comments cannot be treated as confidential. Material which forms part of the application assessment must be available for public inspection, and all representations will be placed on the Council’s planning website. Personal and sensitive information including signatures, email addresses and telephone numbers will be redacted prior to publication.

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