Planning Objections, Local Councils and Data Protection

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    Planning Objections, Local Councils and Data Protection

    I have had a number of objections to a planning application, and it turns out that the practice of my Council seems to be that:

    a - Objections are not published on the Council website.
    b - They can be inspected at the Council Offices, but are 'redacted'.
    c - Redactions include signatures, email addresses and phone numbers (all fair enough), but also residentlial addresses and even names. So in effect, all objections are anonymous.

    This is a 180 degree u-turn from a few years, when everything was just thrown on the website.

    I want to know how this relates to Planning Law, and also to Data Protection Law, and what duties and flexibility Local Authorities have in this area.

    I thought that the planning/objection process was basically public, and that DP Law included a "proportionality" test.

    One interesting (minor) point is that some of the comments on my application make untrue assertions, which are not "relevant" in planning terms, but are still being published anonymously.

    Some councils specifically warn that addresses of objectors will be made public.

    eg Wycombe:

    What is the legal position?

    All comments are welcome.

    Midlands Landlord
    Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.

    Our council uploads all objections and letters of support in full. The only time you are not entitled to a name and address are when you are "reported" for a breach of planning. All objections should be public and objectors are warned on the website that this will be the case. I ind it very strange that they are not shown - how do you even know these people exist or are from the local area?
    Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me


      Hmmm. Asked the Plannig Portal query line, and:

      Your query is not straightforward and I have discussed it with a colleague for a 2nd opinion. Although I am familiar with plg law, I am not v familiar with DP law. I will start with the easy bit - there is no reqt for the council to put objectns on its website.

      I have never seen an authority redact objectors' names and addresses from an objection, though my colleague has. As far as I can see, if the appn is being reported to a council committee, these details should not be redacted. Under the Local Govt (Access to Information) Act an objection to a plg appn would be a "background paper" and that should be available for public inspection without any redaction. There are provisions in the Act to withhold the details of those complaining about breaches of plg control, i.e. people who carry out devt without getting plg permission, but not those objecting to a plg appn. If the appn is being dealt with by an officer under delegated powers, there is no reqt to publish objectns and, if the council publishes them with redacted information, it is doing so voluntarily and, if it chooses to withhold addresses, etc, it can do so. Though I have not checked this is the case, if an appeal is lodged against a refusal of permission, I expect the Inspectorate would want unredacted comments.

      It could be argued that what is important is the issue raised in an objection and how the council deals with it. Having said that, an objection from an immediate neighbour would probably hold more weight than one from somebody living a mile away.

      I hope this helps, although it is a slightly open ended answer.
      It's a good and detailed response.

      I just collected the latest objections, and these were *not* redacted.

      Refer Mad Regulators to Arkell vs Pressdram.


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