This case is about:

  • publishing objections to planning applications; and
  • disclosing personal information.

Mrs A wrote to her local council to raise concerns about her next door neighbour’s planning application to build an extension. She had already fallen out with her neighbour about the plans and knew that details of her objections would be published on the planning pages of the council’s website. However, she was concerned when a copy of her signature was published as well, because she thought this might leave her open to identity theft. Mrs A contacted the council straight away, but they refused to remove this additional information.

Mrs A called our helpline and we explained that our guidance in respect of online planning applications is that an objector’s telephone number, email address and signature should not be visible via a website or other online system.

Armed with our guidance Mrs A contacted the council again. The council had not been aware of our guidance and thanked her for bringing it to their attention. They apologised and removed Mrs A’s signature from their website. They also apologised to Mrs A for the upset caused. Keen to show that they take personal information rights seriously, the council also invested in redaction software to make it easier for them to remove individuals’ details from applications they routinely intended to publish.