A guide to the planning process

Public involvement

Public involvement

The London Borough of Sutton encourages public involvement in planning and your views and comments on planning applications are welcomed. The purpose of these notes is to explain the way the Council (who for the purpose of determining planning applications is the local planning authority (LPA) must consider planning applications.

Planning applications can involve proposals that will change the local environment and may affect the area in which you live. These can include things such as new buildings, extensions, changes of use, advertisements, telecommunication masts and the felling of trees in Conservation Areas or that are protected by a Tree Preservation Order.

When considering an application, the Council has to balance the views and concerns of the local community against the rights of the individual to use or develop their property.

Important information about our online planning system 

We have replaced our planning application management system. Basic information on all applications has been moved on to our new system so please use our new system to view comment and object to planning applications  .Please see our video tutorials and guides to support you with the process. If you need access to any supporting documents that have not been transfered to the new system please contact our planning team. 

Please do not try to access planning application on the fastWEB system. We advise that you delete any shortcuts or favourites that you have had saved to this site to avoid confusion.

How planning applications are publicised

It is not possible to notify everyone who may be interested in a proposal, but we follow a publicity procedure which can be found on the web site at statement of community involvement or at the Development Management Offices, 24 Denmark Road, Carshalton SM5 2JG. 

Weekly List - A list of new applications can be found using the weekly list search.

Local Paper - major applications and applications within conservation areas are advertised in the Sutton Guardian.

Site Notice - larger applications will have site notices placed around the vicinity of the application site.

Neighbours will only be notified of changes to the application if the planning officer considers that the changes are significant enough to justify re-consultation.

Find out more about a planning application

Copies of current planning applications can be inspected using the online planning register. If you wish to view an application in hard copy please email our Development control team  with the date and time you would like to view giving at least 24 hours notice. We are open during normal office hours (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

Development Management Offices,

24 Denmark Road


SM5 2JG. 

Commenting on an application

Anyone has the right to comment on current applications, irrespective of how they came to know about it, or where they live. We usually ask for comments to be received within 21 days of the date of our notification. Please use the online planning register to see whether comments on a particular application are still being accepted.

How you can offer support or object

Comments are best made after you have seen the planning application, when you have an understanding of what is proposed. Whether offering support, comment or objection you should do so by putting your comments in writing as soon as possible as verbal comments cannot be taken into account.

To submit your comments you will need to register online and submit them through the online planning register, tutorial video guidance is available to show you how. Please note that your name and address will be posted online and available to view as part of the application once submitted, however we do not publish any personal email addresses or phone numbers you may have registered. 

Anonymous letters and emails will not be taken into account.

If several other people agree with your views you may wish to organise a petition which should be sent to developmentmanagement@sutton.gov.uk. Petitions should clearly state the reasons for objection or support and must include the name and address of each individual and their signature. The Council will not respond to each individual named on the petition. The petition must also include the details of a person who can be contacted by the council on behalf of the petitioner. It will be that person's responsibility to keep the other petitioners informed.

What is taken into account when making a decision on a planning application

The Council cannot refuse or approve a proposal simply because many people oppose or support it.

Planning applications must be assessed against the local development framework (LDF), The London Plan and any other relevant development plans and policies, unless other considerations indicate otherwise. The weight that can be given to other considerations will depend on the circumstances of each case.

Other things, so called material considerations, that the Council can consider may include:

  • undue loss of privacy or overlooking;
  • loss of sunlight/daylight;
  • effect on trees;
  • access or traffic problems;
  • need for car parking;
  • unacceptable or incompatible use;
  • noise;
  • fumes;
  • excessive height or bulk of buildings;
  • inappropriate design/layout;
  • inadequate landscaping/means of enclosure.

The following are examples of commonly expressed concerns which the Council cannot consider:

  • disputes over boundaries;
  • restrictive covenants, including ancient and other rights to light;
  • loss of value; 
  • inconvenience or other problems caused by building works;
  • opposition to business competition;
  • opposition to the principle of development when outline permission has already been granted for the same type of development; 
  • matters dealt with by other legislation for example building control
  • comments on an applicants morals, character or motives

Applications refused

Just because many people object, it does not necessarily mean an application will be refused. Planning applications can only be refused on valid planning reasons. The number of objectors may indicate the strength of local feeling, but that in itself, may not be sufficient to result in a refusal. A single objection based on relevant planning matters can be effective, whereas a hundred irrelevant objections may carry no weight at all. If relevant planning objections are received from 10 or more separate addresses then the application will be referred to the Planning Committee (see below for further information).

Who makes the decision on a planning application

Most planning applications are decided at officer level under a scheme of delegation approved by the Council and published in its constitution

However some applications are decided by the Planning Committee. This committee comprises of elected councillors from all parties. The committee receives written reports from the planning officers which include a recommendation to refuse or approve the application. The committee consider the reports, listen to objectors/supporters, the ward councillors and the applicant where appropriate, discuss the item and vote on the recommendation. Copies of the Agenda will be available online at least 5 working days before the committee date.

To view applications which are decided by committee, please visit the modern.gov - committee details site. 

Contacting your ward councillor

You may write directly to your ward councillors if you wish. A list of Councillors who sit on the Planning Committee can also be viewed. 

Comments are not confidential

All comments remain on the planning file and are open to inspection at the Council offices & online. If the application is refused and the applicant lodges an appeal with the Secretary of State for the Environment then copies of the letters will be passed to the inspector and the appellant.

Replies to your comments

The council cannot enter into correspondence with individuals about the merits of the application or the detail of their comments or objections, however all comments will be reported and given careful consideration before coming to a decision.

Case officer visits to neighbouring properties

The case officer will only visit neighbouring properties if they consider it necessary to assess the application.

Attending and speaking at the Planning Committee

When an application is referred to the Planning Committee for a decision everyone who wrote in will be advised of the committee date so they can attend if they wish. 

Representatives who wish to speak in support of, or in opposition to, planning applications are able to address the Planning Committee at the discretion of the chairperson. Usually speakers are only allowed four minutes to address the committee, where there are several people who wish to comment they should choose one person to speak on their behalf or they can choose to split the time between them.

You can register to speak at the Planning Committee by completing the online registration form (note: this must be submitted by midday on the day of the meeting at the latest)

Residents who have not given prior notice may still register to speak in person up to 15 minutes before the start of the meeting. Speakers will be asked for their address, their interest in the application and, if appropriate, the organisation or group of residents they are representing.

Submitting written material to the Planning Committee?

Any written correspondence you have previously submitted before the reports dispatch in respect of the application has already been summarised in the officer’s report to be considered at the Committee meeting. Please note that only material planning considerations and, on occasion, non material considerations, will be summarised in the officers report. Should you wish the Committee to consider any additional written or photographic material to your original representation, please send it via email to committeeservices@sutton.gov.uk by midday on the Monday before the scheduled Planning Committee. It will then be distributed to Committee members and the appropriate Case Officer, who will share the information with the applicant, prior to the meeting. 

Appealing against a decision to grant planning permission

Objectors do not have the right of appeal. 

Appealing against a decision to refuse planning permission

If planning permission is refused, or conditionally granted, the applicant has the right to appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment. If this happens, everyone who was originally consulted or commented will be advised of the appeal. Copies of all the original letters of representation are also passed to the inspector and the applicant (who is referred to as the appellant when they have lodged the appeal). You can write to the inspector with additional comments if you wish. You will only be notified of the appeal decision if you put a request in writing to the Inspector. If the appeal method is via an informal hearing or a public inquiry then objectors or supporters have the right to speak at the Inspectors discretion.

If you have any further questions about commenting on planning applications email developmentmanagement@sutton.gov.uk.