Once the application has been accepted and published online by the council , you`ll need to get busy quickly.
The application may well be a “change of use” , meaning that it`s a building being used for a different purpose at present. All buildings are categorised by use:-
Most mosque applications are now being described as a “D1 Community/Islamic Cultural/Education Centre “. Don`t be fooled by this , once the D1 permission is granted it can be used primarily as a Place of Worship without reapplying (unless the council passes it with conditions that it cannot be used for worship)
A coordinated approach is best , I recommend using free social media sites. Set up a Facebook page or Twitter account , and organise some admins to run it. You will always attract the racist elements , just ban them and delete any inappropriate comments. You are local residents and it`s a local issue , don`t get sidetracked by politics or other stuff going on. Your Facebook page should just be used to give the local residents the info they need to object.
Ignore epetitions and paper petitions in the first instance , the only thing that defeats planning applications are OBJECTIONS FROM LOCAL RESIDENTS.
Objections can be registered online (the councils are only obliged to run this option for 21 days) , by email or in writing. Normally you can still object in writing or by email , up until the day of the Planning Hearing. Objections may be made by anyone, regardless of whether they were consulted individually. Although immediate neighbours carry the most weight. You can object about:
- Loss of light or overshadowing.
- Overlooking or loss of privacy.
- Visual appearance (for example, design, appearance and materials).
- Layout and density of buildings.
- Traffic generation, highway safety or adequacy of parking.
- Noise, smells and disturbance resulting from use.
- Loss of trees.
- Effect on listed buildings or conservation areas.
- Relevant planning policies (for example, government policy statements, the London Plan, the local development plan and supplementary planning guidance). Check out your council`s Core Strategy.
- Is the application on Green Belt or designated Stratetegic Development land ?
The one`s in bold are your best arguments.
It`s not a bad idea to print up some flyers or leaflets , and deliver them by hand to the immediate neighbours to the site. You may only need to do 500 or so. You should include a link to your Facebook page , and details about the application (and the reference number)….and why they should object. You can also include all the contact details for the council , and explain how to object. Include details of how objectors can contact their local councillors , since you will also need them working on your behalf. MP`s are not worth bothering with , they will just refer you back to the council.
Your first target is to get at least 20 objections , which should be enough to be deemed as “significant public interest”. This takes the decision out of the hands of the Planning Officers , and you`ll get to present your case to the Planning Committee (sometimes called the Development Control Board) at a public hearing. The Planning Officer will still prepare a report , and make a recommendation (refuse/approve). Don`t assume that’s the final decision. Planning Committee`s quite often vote against the Planning Officers recommendation.
In Chapter Three we`ll show you how to compile the case for refusal.