Engage in the Planning Process

How to Comment on a Planning Application

A planning case officer can only refer to ‘material considerations’ when recommending a decision on a planning application.

Comments that contain ‘material considerations’ will be weighed in the final decision process according to their seriousness and relative importance.

The list below provides some guidance on items and issues commonly raised in comments made on planning applications.  This is a general list and it is not exhaustive and is only provided as guidance.

It is advisable to find out as much information as possible about the planning application before submitting a comment. All planning application files should be available online on the City of Edinburgh Council’s Planning Portal and for public inspection from the local area planning office.

The planning officer dealing with the application may discuss the case with any person so you may wish to contact the designated officer directly.

A planning officer may consider:

The building

  • Design, appearance, and materials
  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Visual amenity
  • Layout and density of the building
  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Disabled persons’ access

Natural and historic environment

  • Landscaping or loss of trees
  • Effect on conservation areas and listed buildings
  • Nature conservation or archaeology

Impact of the development

  • Adequacy of parking/loading/turning
  • Highway safety or traffic generation
  • Noise, smells and disturbance
  • Hazardous materials

Other considerations

  • Local and national policies and guidance
  • Previous planning decisions and site history (including appeal decisions)

A planning officer will not consider:

  • The perceived loss of property value
  • Private disputes between neighbours
  • Disputes over ownership, fences or rights of way
  • The loss of a private view
  • The impact or disruption caused by construction work
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Morals or personal views about the applicant
  • Building regulation issues including structural stability, drainage, fire precautions, hygiene, and internal space

Comments which are anonymous or offensive in any way will not be considered. And you should be aware that any comments you make may be viewable to the public at some point.

Further help and resources:

More comprehensive information on how to make a valid comment on a planning application in available in the City of Edinburgh Council’s “ How to comment on Planning Proposals and Applications “ booklet and in Planning Democracy’s “ Responding to a Planning Application “.

If you are thinking of going to court to challenge a planning decision Plannnig Democracy’s “ Guide to Judicial Review “ may be of use.

Where appropriate you should refer to relevant policies in the current Local Plan.

And you should consider if the planning application relates to a Conservation Area or to any local or national designations or heritage interests.

Useful City of Edinburgh Council Planning Dept maps:

Boundaries of city’s 49 official Conservation Areas
Boundaries of city Green Belt
Listed Buildings
Open Spaces
Trees Map
Trees, groups of trees and woodlands that are protected by Tree Preservation Orders

Planning Casework

Why casework?

One of the Association’s aims is to promote high standards of planning and architecture and try to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of all features of historical or public interest within our city and its environs.

We also believe the planning system has untapped potential to engage people in becoming more actively involved in their community as well as managing land use, change and development for the widest public good.

Planning applications in the City of Edinburgh Council’s online planning portal are routinely monitored by the Cockburn association as casework.

This allows for a critical review of applications, large and small, that are likely to impact on the city’s streetscape, historic character, greenspace or are of significance in terms of community well-being.

Such reviews are scrutinised through the work of the Association’s staff, professional volunteers and, ultimately, the Association’s trustees, which meet regularly. If appropriate, when may seek to actively engage with developers and to bring specific planning applications to the attention of our stakeholders and members.

The planning system allows three types of response: support, objection, or to make a general comment on an application. You will find below three recent examples of Cockburn responses to planning applications:

Historic Building Technical Guidance

If you are the owner of a historic or tradition building in Edinburgh, or intend to undertake work on a building like this, guidance on building conservation best practice is available from Historic Environment Scotland which has prepared a wide range of helpful documents.

The INFORM guides are a highly accessible series of entry level publications full of helpful information.

The Short Guides series provide more in-depth guidance and the Technical Advice Notes are even more detailed and orientated towards professionals.

Expert building advice articles on building components, building materials, and common problems are available on the Historic Environment Scotland ‘Engine Shed‘ website.

We believe the planning system has untapped potential to engage people in becoming more actively involved in their community as well as managing land use, change and development for the widest public good.