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Public comments FAQs

Information on the process of commenting on a planning application. Including how the process works, what is suitable to include in comments and when they can be submitted, and the grounds for objection on our how to respond to planning applications.

Disclaimer - This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information. 

What is a public comment?

A Public Comment is written communication from those who want to let Plymouth City Council know their views on a planning application. It could be a comment, support or objection to a valid planning application.

How do I register to let you know my views?

You must register to let us know your views. Sign up on the Public Access system

You only need to register once. When you have logged in you can let us know your views on any application or be kept informed by selecting the options available.

When can I comment and tell you how I feel about a planning application?

Once an application has been made valid (with the correct paperwork and fees) you can register online with your views. We advertise our applications on our Weekly List, through site notices placed on or near the application’s address and sometimes with an advert in The Herald.

Public Comments should be received within the 21 day consultation period and these are registered on the Council’s planning database (Your name, address and email (if supplied) are entered against the application as someone who has commented. Your home address and email are not shown on the Public Access System).

Comments received after the 21 day consultation period will still be registered and will be taken into account whenever possible with regards to the planning application up until the date when the planning application is determined.

Any planning application can be decided by the officer once the statutory consultation period has ended so please note that if the case has already been decided your comments cannot be taken into consideration.

I do not wish to register on the Public Access system, how can I comment?

You need to register for an account using our Public Access system, it is free to use and once you have registered you can continue to comment any time on any application where comments can be made. If you have trouble registering please call  01752 304366 or email

Why do you publish my views online?

Your views are made known so others can see who has commented and the nature of the comments. The comments are then summarised in the report that the planning officer produces as part of the decision making process.

Do you publish my details?

We will publish your name and comments to show that this is a genuine view/comment on a planning application. For data protection we will not publish / blank out your address/email address, telephone numbers and signatures. Your comments will be shown as follows and are publicly available for everyone to view: Your Name, (OBJECTS, SUPPORTS or COMMENTS)

I don’t want my details published

If you feel this is inappropriate please speak to the officer dealing with the planning application BEFORE you submit your comments as we are required to publish and keep online until the data retention period has passed. This is currently 12 months from the date of the planning decision. There are very few exceptions.

What can I say?

You can say whatever you want with regards to your views on the actual planning application. However please note that planning officers can only take into account relevant planning matters and will need to disregard any non-planning issues. The planning officer dealing with the planning application will be able to advise you on planning matters, but to help here are a few commonly made comments.

Relevant Planning matters

  • Design of a building
  • Traffic/parking issues
  • Loss of privacy, overlooking and loss of light
  • Noise and disturbance
  • Loss of open space / green space/habitats
  • Overdevelopment or underdevelopment
  • Effect on the character of listed buildings or conservation areas

Non Planning matters

  • Loss of personal view
  • Value of properties
  • Land ownership or covenants
  • Business competition
  • Matters that are dealt with by other legislation such as Building Regulations or Licensing

Remember others will be reading this so make sure you say why you support or object to the application.

You can use the online comments boxes to highlight your own concerns and add your own comments underneath these boxes. Please do not get personal with your comments, we may not be able to accept comments that go into personal details, whether about yourself or the applicant. We will make every effort to blank out any personal comments or inappropriate comments.

However, as the author of the comments/letter, you are ultimately responsible for its contents and the comments that you make.

Please ensure your comments are not offensive, inflammatory or libellous, if they are, we will remove them

I want to send in a petition?

We welcome petitions from those who feel strongly enough. Once we receive any petition we take the first person listed (unless a covering letter is attached from the person who instigated the petition) as the main point of contact and their details are entered onto our planning database. All signatures, phone numbers and email addresses are blanked out from all pages that accompany a petition, but we will note the number of signatures on the petition.

Please note a petition is considered as one public comment under the Planning Scheme of Delegation.

Can my children write in?

Everyone is welcome to comment on a planning application. Please bear in mind this letter will be made public on our website and that if we need to write to a person/s about an application your child/ren may get an official letter from us addressed to them. If your child wants to write in, they are advised to put their age at the bottom of the letter (if they are under 16 years). If an address, email or telephone number is included we automatically redact the document (blank these details out).

Why don’t you acknowledge my comment?

We receive thousands of comments every year and it is not practical for the case officer to respond to them all individually. If you have an account to log in to the Public Access system you will be able to see your comments and others too and you can request a copy of the comments you have made.

Why don’t you answer my questions about this application when I contact you?

It is impractical for officers to respond in detail to all the letters and comments they receive because of the large volume we get each year. However the officer will respond to the issues in the officer report and this report is made public.

I telephoned in my comments but you would not accept them, why?

Verbal, telephone or anonymous representations, whilst they may be noted, may not be considered as a formal representation. This is because it is necessary for representations to be recorded as a public record to ensure that the Local Planning Authority is being fair and transparent both to the applicant and other interested parties in the way that it deals with comments received and we do not misinterpret your comments in any way.

Why can’t I comment on certain applications?

We will still consider any comments brought to our attention but there is no requirement for us to make people aware of these applications. Please note certain applications in the Public Access System may not allow you to comment. They are applications where a comment is not subject to the 21 days consultation period (suffix codes of PRDE, PRUS, EXDE, EXUS, MJR, MOR & HHR). Applications that carry the suffix codes of MJR, MOR or HHR are Pre-planning application enquiries. These are applications where the customer is just asking for planning advice or views before they may or may not submit a formal application.

Where can I see my comments online?

These can be found in the Public Comments area relating to that planning application. We strongly advise you to register on our system so you have access to the Planning Application documents and are able to make your own representations.

What happens when I write in or email you direct?

Your comments are important like everyone who takes the time to write in, email or use our Public Access system.

With regards to letters, they have to be scanned and redacted which takes up officer time. 

With regards to emailing comments, again it takes up officer time to deal with the content. We will of course deal with them, but please bear with us as they take longer to process than using the Public Access System.

By using our Public Access system you have the opportunity of commenting as much as you like to live planning applications and the system remembers who you are each time you log in. It is more convenient for you and for us and saves the authority and of course you, time.

Will you tell me the outcome of an application I have commented on?

Yes, we can do this if you register for an account online and supply us with a valid email address if you decide to write to us. At the end of the process we will email you the outcome and the location where you can view the decision notice online. If you have registered on our system this happens automatically.

I am not happy with the outcome and want to complain

Only an applicant can formally appeal against a decision. If you are unhappy with the way the Council has dealt with a planning application or your individual concerns then you can go through the Council’s complaints procedure. Exceptionally if you believe that the Council has not legally followed the correct process you can submit a request for a judicial review with the courts and you should seek legal advice on how to do this.

How does the Council decide how an application is advertised?

The Council uses its own publicity code.

How do I know whether my concerns will be discussed at the Planning Committee?

Only certain planning applications are referred to the Planning Committee. The case officer will be able to confirm whether a planning application will be referred to Planning Committee and the likely date or you are advised to contact your local Councillor.

Where can I find out more?

Find out more information about planning applications

Remember the important thing is to get your views across on supporting or objecting to an application. Make your comments stand out with strong reasons about the actual application.

Do not bring in personal circumstances into your comments no matter how you feel.

It is important to us that you register online and become part of the democratic process if you wish to comment on a planning application or follow its progress using our Public Access system.