Our planning guide

How to comment on Planning Applications - Self-Help Guidelines

About us

We are not qualified planning specialists, architects, surveyors, or land agents but individuals who have struggled to understand the Planning System and have gradually learned ways in which we can write effective comments to Planning Applications. We are not providing a prescriptive recipe, rather some hints about the kinds of points and evidence that could be used in writing to support or object to applications.

The best approach is to ensure that most of the points you raise are what the planners term ‘an approved planning matter.’

How to access Planning Applications

All Applications are published on Herefordshire Council website : They can be searched for by number if known (each application has a unique number), address, name of location or post code.

Types of Application

An Outline application is for ‘in principle’ permission, covering the basic requirements (in particular, access). Any detailed matters (such as e.g. housing layout) are termed Reserved Matters, which have to be dealt with in a subsequent Full application.

Large and/or complex applications are accompanied by a substantial number of supporting documents, to justify the application. They should describe, with up to date information :

(i) the location and size of the development; (ii) how it will function; (iii) its relationship with its wider environment.

Many planning applications are decided by Council Officers, under ‘delegated powers’, but others are referred for decision to the Herefordshire Council Planning Committee.

Reasons for commenting on an Application

How will it impact on you, your neighbours or the wider community? Local knowledge is important. The specialist Council Officers, e.g. Transport, and official organisations such Historic England or the Environment Agency may make comments that are put on the website; they can be useful sources of information and ideas about aspects of an application.

Provide facts and objective evidence of likely impacts, not personal feelings or gossip. Relevant photos can be used to illustrate your concerns.

Decisions to Allow or to Refuse an Application

Decisions are based on whether or not evidence submitted shows that the development will comply with three sets of policies, which are:

This sets out the Government’s national policies for development and provides the framework under which local councils develop their Local Plans.

This is the County’s Plan for the kinds of developments that will be permitted, and where. Essentially, it is intended to enable sustainable developments that will meet the various needs of the county, such as increased housing, the local economy and essential infrastructure in the context of climate change and in a highly valued natural and historic environment. All the Policies are intended to ensure that developments do not cause irreparable harm to important resources such as good agricultural land, biodiversity and local residents.

These are intended to have enable local communities to have a significant role in shaping the areas where they live and work. All NDP Policies must be in conformity with those of the Core Strategy. Once formally ‘adopted’ by Herefordshire Council, the Policies of an NDP have the same legal status as those of the Core Strategy. 

The best order in which to proceed 

1. Think about what you want to object to

2. Start with a search of the Core Strategy, as those Policies are essential.

3. Referring to NPPF Policies can strengthen or emphasise a possible omission of evidence or a breach of a Core Strategy Policy.

4. NDPs vary according to each community that has developed one so summaries would be inappropriate; any particular Application will be located in a specific NDP area.

5. Make a clear statement that you object  or support the whole or part(s) of the application.

6. The Council website gives a date by which comments should be submitted; it is best to meet the date although all late submissions are considered.


You may know other people who want to object or support an Application but are not keen to write themselves. We suggest that you encourage them to do so individually; round robin letters and petitions carry little weight and may be treated as only one submission, whereas large numbers from different people must be considered separately.