Have your say on planning applications, public rights of way and certain highway matters



Find out about the arrangements Colchester Borough Council has put in place for anyone who wishes to object to or support a planning application, an order to create, divert or extinguish a public right of way, or certain other highway matters, and to make representations at the meeting at which the application or other matter is being considered. This information describes exactly how you can Have Your Say!


You are welcome to observe any of these meetings to hear the debates and, usually, one person in opposition to and one person in support of each application is permitted to join the meeting to make their representations.

How are planning applications and public rights of way decided?
When the council receives a planning application immediate neighbours abutting the application site are notified by letter.  Applications are decided by the Assistant Director (Place and Client Services) except those which are contrary to adopted policies, a departure from the development plan or which are subject to a request from a Councillor that they be considered by the Planning Committee.


There is generally a period of 21 days from the date on a letter of notification for views to be submitted in writing about a planning application.  Any views given in writing may only be considered by the case officer if they are ‘material planning considerations’.

Meetings of the Planning Committee are generally held on a two or three week cycle, usually on Thursdays at 6pm either at the Town Hall, Colchester or online. The Meetings Calendar on the website here can be used to check the date, time and venue of the meetings.  For online meetings a link to observe the meeting on the internet will be included in the meeting agenda once the agenda for the meeting has been published.

To find out when an application or public right of way order is being considered,  check the contents of the agenda for each meeting which will be published a week before the meeting date.

How does Have Your Say! on a planning application work?

For anyone wishing to make representations relating to applications considered by Planning Committee members you will need to register to do this in advance of the meeting. You can register by emailing democratic.services@colchester.gov.uk.  You are encouraged to do this during the week prior to the meeting but certainly no later than 12 noon on the working day before the meeting date with your name, email address, application number and site location and a copy of the representations you wish to make. 

Important note:  we can only allow one objector and one supporter to make representations on each application.  In circumstances when more than one person wishes to make representations in support or more than one person wishes to make representations against a single application or public right of way order, the Chairman will decide which one representation will be permitted using the following criteria:

  • Whether the representation is made on behalf of a wider group such as a Parish Council or Residents Group;
  • The proximity of the person making the representation to the application site;
  • The timing of the submission.

If you are appointed to speak you will receive an email confirming your ability to make representations, together with details of how to make your representations. For online meetings this will include a link and the time to join. In the event of unforeseen technical problems which prevent access online by an individual, the written copy of the representation will be read out to the Committee by the Chairman.

Each person will be allowed up to three minutes (this equates to 500 words) to make their representations and will be instructed when the time has elapsed and will then be required to leave the meeting. The remainder of the meeting can be observed online.

Material planning considerations are the issues which the committee members can take into account in reaching a decision. Photographs, illustrations or written material are not permitted. 

What can I say at the meeting?
For planning applications, please confine your comments to material planning issues which may be taken into consideration in reaching a decision.  These may include:-

  • Planning policy such as that contained in the Local Plan, other local planning policy and guidance, government policy and guidance and planning case law
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Impact on visual or residential amenity including potential loss of daylight or sunlight from habitable rooms or overshadowing and loss of privacy
  • Impact on trees, landscaping and wildlife
  • The planning history of the site
  • All forms of pollution such as noise, fumes and contamination
  • Heritage conservation including buildings, historic areas and archaeology
  • Opportunities for new employment or affordable housing.

The following are not 'relevant planning considerations' and cannot be taken into account in reaching a decision:-

  • Private land ownership issues including boundary or access disputes and restrictive covenants or private rights of way
  • Poor neighbour relationships or behaviours
  • Effects on property values
  • Loss of a private view
  • Impact of construction work in terms of disruption
  • Personal morals or views about the applicant or the use proposed
  • Competition between operators
  • The possibility of a ‘better’ site or alternative future use

It is also advisable to limit representations strictly to the planning application, public right of way or highway matter.  The Chairman has discretion to disallow or terminate any public participation which is scurrilous, vexatious, improper, irrelevant or otherwise objectionable.

What happens when a planning application is considered by the Planning Committee?

  • The Chairman will announce the name of those wishing to make representations to the Committee members
  • The representations, of up to three minutes each, will be heard at the start of the meeting in order of the items of business being conducted. For each application / item those in opposition will be heard first, then those in support for each application, then any councillors, not members of the committee, who will be permitted to make representations for up to five minutes
  • Those making representations will not be allowed to ask questions, and committee members will not be able to ask questions of them
  • Once all people wishing to make representations have done so, the case officers will present their reports in the order of the items of business for discussion, adding to, updating and illustrating the written report already circulated to committee members
  • The Committee members will then debate the matter, and may ask for further information from the officer, before coming to a decision
  • Consideration of an application or highway matter will not be delayed due to the absence of someone wishing to make a representation.

Will a decision be made at the meeting?
Most planning applications, public right of way or highway matters considered by councillors are decided at their first hearing at the Planning Committee.  However, some decisions may be deferred:

  • For a site inspection by councillors
  • For more information to be obtained, or for negotiations to take place
  • For a determination by the Secretary of State in cases where the application is contrary to the current Local Plan or if the application affects a Grade I* or 2* listed building where the comments of Historic England have not been received.

Representations are not permitted for applications which have been deferred or which have been subject to the Deferral and Recommendation Overturn Procedure (DROP).

For information on Planning Committee meetings and Have Your Say!, please email:


For planning applications and certain highway matters and matters of diversion or stopping up of existing public rights of way, please email: 


For other public rights of way and highway matters, please contact Essex County Council Highways