Last edited 15 Jun 2016

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. (See Planning Portal: Appeal time limits for more information).

Detailed procedures for making an appeal vary depending on the nature of the application (See Planning Portal: Make an appeal), 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 or 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. Details of current handling times can be found on the handling times page of the Planning Portal.

However, 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.

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

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.

NB 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.

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