Last edited 05 Jan 2015

Called-in planning application

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government can ‘call in’ planning applications for his / her own consideration, taking over the process of determining the application from the local planning authority. However, as Parliament has given responsibility for day-to-day planning matters to local planning authorities, government policy is ‘…to be very selective about calling in planning applications’. (ref Written statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Nick Boles) October 2012.

The ‘Plain English guide to the Planning System’ published by the Department for Communities and Local Government In January 2015 states that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

'... has the power to take over particular planning applications rather than letting the local planning authority decide, which is known as ‘call-in’. An application can be called-in whether or not there has been a request to do so. The Secretary of State uses these powers very sparingly, usually where planning issues of more than local importance are involved. If the Secretary of State decides to call-in a planning application, a planning inspector is appointed to carry out an inquiry into the proposal. The inspector will then report with their recommendation to the Secretary of State who will make a decision on the proposal, in much the same way as a recovered planning appeal.'

Each case is considered on its own merits, but generally, the sorts of planning application that the Secretary of State calls in are those that:

  • Are considered nationally significant.
  • Are in conflict with government policy.
  • Have a significant long-term impact on economic growth.
  • Have significant effects beyond their immediate locality.
  • Are controversial.
  • Raise significant architectural and urban design issues.
  • Involve national security or foreign governments.

Where an application is called in, a planning inspector is appointed to hold an inquiry into the application and the Secretary of State must take the findings of the inquiry into account when they make their decision.

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