Need to submit building plans for comment?

The vast majority of planning applications never cross the desks of the NRA’s property team. That’s because they are designed to conform to the current planning regulations. The City don’t need to circulate those for comment.

And even those applications that do get referred to the NRA, usually get ‘No Objection’ letters quite quickly.

If you have a property in the NRA area, and your plans do not conform exactly to the building regulations, or if the property is more than 60 years old, your plans will be circulated for comment. Typical issues that require consultation are sub-divisions, re-zoning, title deed restrictions, demolitions, ‘Departures’ and Heritage issues.

Experienced architects know this and will put you in touch with the NRA’s property team. Some architects do this before submitting plans to council (which can save a lot of time), others afterwards as a legal requirement of the planning process.

Download NRA plans submission checklist here.

Either way the NRA will have a look at your plans and either sign a ‘No Objection’ letter, or submit a comment. If the project can be adapted to overcome an objection then the revised plans will be stamped with a No Objection.

The NRA does everything it can to make your plans work but if a resident wants to knock down a Newlands Village cottage and build a Tuscan villa, they must expect pushback from residents, and the NRA, who are overwhelmingly keen to retain the character of Newlands.

Well formulated objections would very likely block such a plan and, if they didn’t, there would be strong basis to appeal the outcome to a higher planning body.

In 2021 the NRA successfully appealed an approval that was granted despite a well-reasoned professional objection. It was clearly a wrong decision by the officials involved and the appeal process confirmed that. It would have been much more effective, in time and money, for the homeowner to negotiate with the objectors up front.

“The NRA objection stopped me building.”
Not so. The NRA has no powers to halt a project.

All the NRA can do is submit professionally prepared ‘Comments’ to the planning authorities. If the Council refuses planning permission on the basis of an NRA comment it is because their planning officers have found the comment to be persuasive. The NRA has no decision making power for application approvals.

It is also not true that you need to submit No Objection letters from everyone before you submit your final application. It is by far the best and quickest way to get permission, but you don’t have to do it.

If the NRA, or anyone else, declines to sign a No Objection letter within the speficied period, you have a choice:

■ negotiate with the objector until a compromise is reached, or

■ submit anyway and hope that the Council finds your argument more persuasive than the objector’s.

If you do need to approach the NRA for a letter of No Objection, please download this checklist to see what we will need to help you.

Download NRA plans submission checklist here.

Please go through the checklist carefully ensuring you have all necessary documents before submitting your application to the NRA.

Haggling over plans
We protect our volunteer architects fiercely. Their role in the your planning process is either to sign a No Objection letter, or to submit a Comment.

Please understand that our volunteers don’t have the time to advise you or incrementally negotiate over your plans. Once the NRA has scrutinised your plans their comment will clearly state any objection.

Revisions are between you and your architect and until revised plans are submitted, there won’t be any further comment on your project.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Volunteer committee work very hard all year round both in the own professional capacities as well as on the NRA commenting committee – they deserve a break! The NRA will be closed for comments between the 15 December and the 15 January. Please still send us your submissions and we will deal with them on a first in, first out basis in the New Year.

If you have any queries please email