BIAS Planning Advice

This page gives help on how to comment about a planning application.

Please note that by going to Bristol or any other local authority on www.ukplanning.com you can find details of any planning applications, decisions, site histories and appeals.

If to be discussed at Committee, from the Wednesday before the committee date, a copy of the officer’s report and recommendation can be seen at the authority’s website. Whilst this report will have a recommendation to either grant or refuse permission, it is important to note that this recommendation does not mean that the decision has already been taken, as the decision now rests entirely with the elected members. Do look at this report and contact the authority with further comments.

You have a right to attend the meeting, and you are able to make a statement to the committee, subject to advance notice being received.

National and local planning policies

Planning Policies (updated 21 January 2013). Look also at the Bristol City Council planning pages for further definitions of the policy statements.

Local listing

The Bristol Local List was adopted by the Council in October 2015, and is a collection of heritage assets have been identified through conservation area appraisal or via public comments. They are not protected in law as are Listed Buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments, but they are defined in the National Policy Planning Framework ( para 135) and must be taken into account when determining a planning application. Further information can be found on the Council website.

Bristol is to be congratulated on approving a policy in 2012 to include a Local List in their Planning policies. The Statutory List – which is a Statutory List of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest (Grades I, II, II*) is usually held in local Central Libraries, on English Heritage internet sites and LA offices. The Statutory List is of buildings mostly prior to 1840 which are of Architectural Interest and remain largely unaltered.

There are, however, a number of pre-1840 vernacular buildings, particularly those built of LOCAL STONE, which unless they are in a Conservation Area, have no protection. It is important that these are picked up now and if they cannot qualify for the Statutory Lists, be put forward for LOCAL LISTING.

Over the centuries, Bristol has over-run many farms, hamlets and villages in Gloucester, Somerset, pre-1840 maps of these counties will sometimes show hamlets and villages, giving a clue where earlier buildings might exist. Stone buildings in the old Kingswood Forest might be of particular interest and old pubs in particular are often unlisted, all over the Region. Include a clear photo and info about the buildings concerned. It is particularly important to pick up pre-1840 buildings not in Conservation Areas.

Conservation planning advice and how to comment on applications

Unauthorised works to a listed building are a criminal offence under section 9 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Removal of internal fittings as well as exterior works are contrary to the requirements of section 16(2) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and PPS 5

Statutory Criteria are used to assess whether a building is of special interest

To protest you must send a letter to Planning, Transport and Sustainable Development, Brunel House, St Georges Road, Bristol BS1 5UY, Telephone: 0117 9223976 quoting the planning reference numbers and stating in what context you are writing (shopkeeper, resident, neighbour, society…)

Length of time for comment on individual applications: There is 3 weeks grace from the receipt of a letter giving notice of an application and about 5 weeks from the date of registration.

Each time an application is put on the same property, you must write again. Previous letters are ignored since they were for a different application proposal.

Anyone who feels they might like to speak at a Development Committee Planning Meeting must book a slot early – midday on the day before the meeting. A good showing from passionate local people should play well- but do not speak for more than 3 minutes, only present the main points of your objection since it should have been read earlier by the panel, and do try to orchestrate the campaigners to make sure each puts forward different points. Councillors can be very responsive to a gathering of local objectors, which is perhaps no surprise given that they are elected officials.

Any letter written about an application will be summarised in the delegated report. The Development Committee will not see the individual letters, only the planners report, so do write again having looked at the planners report, making sure you put your main points succinctly.

Power to the people … how to fight a successful campaign

Find out the history of the site, and establish its redeeming features and put it on the web. State its cultural significance, whether of national, regional or local importance. State if any famous people people associated with it. Take some photos, especially when changes are taking place and put them on the web

Prepare a flier for distribution detailing who to contact, suggest points of concern, identify planning aplications, dates to write by etc. Keep a diary on the web of good/bad changes to keep everyone informed. Put the names and contact details of the developers, planning officers, site champion on the web.

Contact the planners and enforcement officers if you have concerns about a particular building that you feel is worth saving and tell them what your concerns are. Contact local councillors, contact local newspapers if you are getting nowhere with the Council, contact local radio stations, contact the local television station. Contact your local MP (don’t forget to include your address in the subject line if you are sending an email because they give priority for emails sent by local constituents

Contact English Heritage, contact relevant Societies such as Industrial Archaeology, Georgian, Victorian, Civic Trust, local history, contact celebrities who would be useful to the cause.

Useful websites:

Information about planning applications is now available:

  • the Bristol City Council website
  • on the national planning website http://www.ukplanning.com
  • Planningfinder.co.uk is a free to use internet portal for everyone. They send you an email whenever a planning application is submitted close to your registered postcode. PlanningFinder works by searching for applications on local authorities’ websites and then calculates which ones are close to you. The service is for anyone who values their environment, be it town or country, who wants to know about changes which could affect the character of their locality.
  • Bristol Neighbourhood Planning Network Bristol NPN is a voluntary, self-help network of neighbourhood based, resident Ied groups within Bristol who are or want to be involved in the planning of their area either through the production of a local plan and/or making comments upon planning applications.
  • Planning Aid is a voluntary service offering free, independent and professional advice on town planning matters to community groups and individuals who cannot afford to employ a planning consultant.
  • planning portal that puts you in touch with planning services throughout Scotland, England and Wales. Working in partnership with local authorities. Planning Doctor very useful for independent answers
  • Network of Residents’ Association (includes section on housing legislation)
  • BBC
  • Bristol City Council
  • Campaign for Planning Sanity– free advice line for local communities and campaign groups affected by adverse planning
  • Planning Inspectorate. Gives notes for the guidance of Inspectors as well as for the campaigners for appeals and public inquiries
  • The Open Spaces Society. This society protects common land and public rights of way; it can also help to register a new ‘green’. The address is Open Spaces Society, 25a Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2BA
  • Images of England is a ‘point in time’ photographic library of England’s listed buildings, recorded at the turn of the 21st century.
    You can view over 300,000 images of England’s built heritage from lamp posts to lavatories, phone boxes to toll booths, mile stones to gravestones, as well as thousands of bridges, historic houses and churches.
    The site brings together the English Heritage online “list” of listed buildings, The “Images of England” website (which also includes most listed buildings but also has pictures of some) and the “pastscape” site which has archeological records. All of these were available before but it is nice that they are in one place.