Planning appeals

Should your planning application be refused by the Local Planning Authority, or a decision not be issued in time, you have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.  This is a national body and is independent of the Local Council.

By and large Planning Inspectors are planners by training, although those in other professions can become Inspectors, including Solicitors, Architects and Engineers.

It is very important to note that there are strict timescales and procedures for planning appeals.  If you wait too long you will not be able to make an appeal. 

If you go to appeal it is not a 'done deal' that you will gain planning permission.  If an appeal is refused it could make it very difficult to gain planning permission for your site subsequently.  An Inspectors decision, and the conclusions reached in the written report, tend to set the parameters against which a future application will be judged.  One point that has to be remembered is that the Planning Inspector will be judging an application against exactly the same Local Plan Policies as the original Planning Officer was using.  The process of appeal provides a means by which the planning judgement of a Council is properly balanced.  The Planning Inspector will be aware of local opinion expressed through letters of support and objection, but, not being local, and not being influenced by the politics of the locality, may be more objective in considering those opinions. 

There are some who make a planning application in the belief that it will be refused, and that they will gain permission at appeal.  For a few this will work out, but for others it will not. It is normally an unwise ploy.

Before making an appeal consideration needs to be given to the legitimate grounds for appeal, and the likelihood of success.  If the grounds given for refusal can be overcome by some redesign, or provision of more detailed information, then it is often better to discuss this with the Planning Officer, amend the scheme, and resubmit it.  Sometimes it can seem that a planning department has decided, almost as an unwritten policy, that they will refuse certain applications by giving undue weight to one planning policy over another.  Equally, it may be that the Planning Officer simply doesn't like the design and is looking for ways to reject it.  In some places Councils seem to be frightened of anything that is 'different'. In these circumstances an outsider (Planning Inspector) may bring a fresh set of eyes to the matter, untrammelled by local pressures and politics.  But it is not something to be relied on!

If the decision is made to go to appeal, having decided that there is a reasonable chance of success, and considered the implications of losing an appeal, the process begins.  Generally appeals are won on the basis that the original refusal didn't accord with planning policy, nationally or locally.  Wailing about the unfairness of it all isn't a good way of presenting your case. 

For the majority of appeals representations to the Inspector are made in written form.  It is important to understand that the whole of your case must presented at one time when launching the appeal.  You can't add to it later. Because of the knowledge of planning law and practice that is required, it is advisable to use a professional planning consultant, or an Architect who understands the local planning landscape.  As Planning Inspectors are, by and large, planners, who think like planners, arguments to support the appeal must be made in a form that they are at home with.  The appeal should include a statement of case which presents the Appellants case well, and as concisely as reasonably possible.  It should include any necessary evidence in support of the appeal, and draw the Inspectors attention to any policies, precedence and design matters that are important in making the Appellants case as well as can be done.

Once the Appeal has been submitted it will be checked to make sure that it is valid.  A little while afterwards it will be started.  The process follows a strict and rigid timetable from the start date which must be adhered to.  The only date that is not fixed is the final decision. 

A Planning Inspector can award costs if one or other party has acted unreasonably.  The definition of unreasonable is quite narrow.


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