Last edited 06 Oct 2020

Planning appeal

If planning permission is refused, the applicant may lodge an appeal which will then usually be decided by an inspector acting for the Secretary of State. A small number may be 'recovered' by the Secretary of State who will then determine the appeal themselves. See Recovered planning appeals for more information.

There are different types of appeal that can be made:

Time limits for appeals vary depending on the nature of the application, but for a standard planning application for a commercial development, appeals must be made within 6 months of the date of the decision notice.

Detailed procedures for making an appeal vary depending on the nature of the application, but generally the two parties to the appeal (usually the applicant and the local planning authority) will be expected to provide information to support their cases. The inspector will tell the parties what the timetable is for this information to be provided. The inspector will usually visit the site, and may hold a hearing. Some appeals, in particular those dealing with bigger developments, may be heard by public inquiry.

There is generally no fee for making an appeal (apart from enforcement appeals). Parties to appeals are normally expected to meet their own expenses, however where one party has behaved ‘unreasonably’ and has caused another party to incur unnecessary expense, an application for costs can be made and the Secretary of State or the inspector may make an award of costs. Awards of costs must be ‘reasonable’ and from October 2013, costs may be awarded both on application and at the initiative of the inspector.

The delay to a project associated with making an appeal may have significant implications. The time from submitting an appeal to getting a decision may be several months.

Planning appeals may require additional services from the consultant team not covered by their initial appointment.

[edit] 2013 Reform

In October 2013, changes were introduced intended to speed up the appeals process, with an expectation that 80% of written representation appeals should be decided within 14 weeks and 80% of non-bespoke inquiries within 22 weeks:

At the point of launching their appeal, developers must present a full statement of their case (a written statement setting out full particulars of the case and copies of any documents that will be referred to or put in evidence), an explanation of the choice of procedure, and if there is likely to be a hearing or inquiry, a draft statement of common ground (a written statement setting out information about the proposal that it is not expected will be disputed by the local planning authority). The appeal will not be validated unless the developer complies with this requirement.

The planning authority must respond within one week with a questionnaire, reach an agreement on any statement of common ground within five weeks, and submit its final comments within seven weeks.

Complaints against appeals decisions are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate’s Quality Assurance Unit. It is only possible to challenge appeals decisions in the High Court by showing that the Planning Inspectorate has misinterpreted the law. The Planning Inspectorate will then look at the decision again, but it will not necessarily be reversed. Applications to challenge decisions must be received by the Administrative Court within 42 days from the date of the decision.

[edit] Ongoing review

In July 2014, the government announced that it would give particular scrutiny to planning appeals in, or close to, neighbourhood plan areas, considering recovery of appeals for '...proposals for residential development of over 10 units in areas where a qualifying body has submitted a neighbourhood plan proposal to the local planning authority: or where a neighbourhood plan has been made'. (Ref. Written ministerial statement, 10 July 2014.)

In June 2018, Communities Secretary Rt. Hon James Brokenshire MP appointed Bridget Rosewell to chair an independent review into planning appeal inquiries. The review was set up with the aim of reducing the time it takes to determine inquiries established to resolve disputed planning proposals, whilst still ensuring quality decision making.

In February 2019, the government publish the findings of the independent review into planning appeal inquiries (the Rosewell Report) which proposed driving down the time taken to decide appeals from 47 to 26 weeks. Ref

In March 2019 it was announced that the Planning Inspectorate would run a pilot scheme for inquiries in response to the recommendations of the inquiries review. Ref

On 14 May 2019, the Planning Inspectorate published its action plan to implement the recommendations of the inquiries review. Ref

For more information see: Rosewell Review.

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