I applied for a building permit to use a room in my house for childcare and have received 37 objections. Surely this is not normal?
Is it now guaranteed that my application will be rejected?
Neighbors have been going around with petitions, claiming that children playing in the garden would be too noisy and parents dropping them off and picking them up would be dangerous.
We spoke to a planning expert about your request to use a room in your home for child care.
MailOnline property expert Myra Butterworth answers: Objections do not mean that your application will be automatically denied.
In fact, one of the myths of the planning system is that an application will be approved if there are no objections and will be rejected if the neighbors take up arms.
We spoke to a leading planning expert who explained more about how to progress and, indeed, even whether you need any planning permission.
Martin Gaine, a chartered town planner, replies: It’s stressful and intimidating when you submit what you think is a reasonable, non-controversial planning request, and a bunch of neighbors freak out.
The good news is that the neighbors can make all the noise they want, but that doesn’t mean your application will be rejected.
Planning is not a popularity contest. The number and strength of the objections is not the deciding factor.
One of the myths of the planning system is that an application will be approved if it is not objected to and will be rejected if the neighbors take up arms.
Planners take local feedback into account, but then make their own assessment based on planning policies and the facts of the case.
I read objection letters every day, and while some are reasonable and thoughtful, others lose touch with reality. I remember a letter from last year in which a neighbor compared the prospect of a new house being built in her town to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.
Of course, we can’t just brand all the neighbors who bother to write to us as troublemakers or Nimbys. Many do it reluctantly and are aware that their letter may damage their relationship with their neighbors.
As a planning consultant, I write neighbor objections on behalf of clients and always make my comments as reasonable and constructive as possible.
And in a case like this, where 37 objections have been received, even the most indifferent official will be forced to take a closer look at the request, even if at first they thought it was a simple approval.
A large number of angry letters often reflect genuine concern about a development proposal, and it’s best to try to get to the bottom of what really worries your neighbors. Whatever the outcome of your application, you will have to continue to live with them.
A large number of objections does not mean that a planning application will be rejected.
At first glance, your proposal seems very modest. Propose child care from a single room in your house. But boisterous children playing around the house or in the yard can be noisy, and parents dropping off and picking up their children can cause disruptions and parking problems.
The first step is to read the objections carefully and try to understand what the real concerns are.
Then talk to your case officer to see if there is a way to get past them.
Perhaps measures could be implemented to limit noise, using the garden only to play at certain hours, for example.
You could also address parking concerns, perhaps by showing that children live locally and are typically dropped off on foot, or by implementing staggered drop-off and pick-up times.
If you could help, you might consider restricting your hours of operation or limiting the number of children that will be seen at one time.
As a final thought, you may not need any building permits.
Government guidance on working from home, updated last month, says that home-based businesses do not need a building permit if they do not cause a major change to the character of the area in terms of traffic, parking or noise and nuisance, e.g. example. .
If you are caring for a small number of children on your own, I don’t think you need any permission. If you are dealing with a larger number of children, or you hire staff to help, permission is more likely to be required.
Martin Gaine is a chartered town planner. and author of ‘How to Get Planning Permission: Insider Secrets’.