Can we stop our narrow lane being used for a big housing development?

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A developer applied for planning permission for 70 houses on land at the end of my road. This looks like the council is going to pass it.

How can I dispute the use of this narrow country road for such a large development?

How can locals argue with the use of a small country road for such a large development?

How can locals argue with the use of a small country road for such a large development?

Myra Butterworth, MailOnline property expert, replies: The planning process can feel like a closed shop, particularly if a development has already obtained planning permission or looks likely to be approved.

There can often be heavily invested parties, who may be unwilling to consider the concerns of local residents and the wider appeal of the local area over their own financial gains.

Residents should work together to voice their objections to plans and ensure they lobby elected officials to influence the outcome so that their concerns are heard and implemented.

While many new homes need to be built, new sites should ideally be created in a way that develops communities and builds on their assets.

Recent scandals such as dangerous coatings have shown the dangers of squeezing as much as one square foot back from a new development without sufficient consideration by developers.

Martin Gaine, approved urban planner, answers: Our planning system is upside down. By the time a major planning application like this is submitted and local residents are first consulted about it, the developer, council and various other parties have had long and thorough negotiations.

For the developer, the scheduling application itself is almost the end of the process. For residents, it can be a horrible start.

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Residents are at a severe disadvantage in the planning process – they don’t have the technical expertise or financial resources that developers and council command.

The locals are a disparate bunch. Developers are highly targeted and profit-hungry companies. When big apps are presented to the community, it’s often like a kind of fait accompli.

Access choice is a good example of how this works. Whether an access is suitable to handle the increased volume of traffic expected – including during the construction phase when there will be heavy goods vehicles – is a technical matter, decided during a conversation between the consultants of the motorways of the developer and the local motorway authority. These discussions take place before the application and you, as a local resident, are in effect informed that an arrangement has been made.


If your lane is a public road, a developer may reasonably request that it be widened and upgraded to handle increased traffic volumes. The main question from a highway perspective is whether the widened road is safe. Planners will flounder in special circumstances – if you’re in an Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a conservation area, for example – but will defer otherwise to their motorway colleagues.

This extra traffic on the road will cause additional noise and disturbance affecting your quiet enjoyment of your home is not really a consideration unless the impact is severe.

Remember Council Officers and Elected Members Work for You

So is there anything you can do? A well-resourced group of residents could commission their own freeway consultants to review what the council and developer have agreed to. This is however not financially viable for most.

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The only option left is to do loud and noisy performances. It is these representations that cause neighbors to be labeled NIMBY – unfair when making noise is the only way for them to participate effectively in the planning monopoly.

It is true that strident, angry and vague objections are not very useful. Remember, however, that council officers and elected members work for you. Contact the councilors in your neighborhood and ask them to inspect the access with you. Ask for an appointment with the person in charge of the town planning dossier and try to contact the engineers who handled the dossier at the road network.

You can also try talking to the developers in the hope that they consider alternative access for development. At the very least, you are entitled to a good understanding of how the road will be changed and the expected traffic volume and pattern.

  • Martin Gaine is a Chartered Planner and author of “How to Get Planning Permission – Insider’s Secrets”
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