Emma Jones

Emma Jones

Emma has over 20 years’ expertise supporting clients to find creative and commercial town planning solutions.

When and how to appeal a planning refusal?

Having invested your time, energy and money into the process, the planning refusal of a development you have set your heart on can feel like a personal rejection. You might feel that the reasons given for refusal are unreasonable and without merit or, alternatively, just decide to give up on your dream project altogether.

A refused or undecided planning application is not necessarily the end of the road for a development. There is a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if you disagree with the decision or the decision has not been made within eight weeks (or 13 weeks for a major development, such as 10 or more dwellings or a building of more than 1,000 square metres).

You can submit an appeal within six months of the decision notice date or (if a decision hasn’t been made) up to 6 months after the decision should have been made – including any agreed extension of time.

If you are considering appealing against a refusal or even the lack of decision, it is always advisable to seek the advice of an experienced professional who is able to provide an objective view of the refusal reasons and prospects. There is no one size fits all approach here. Acer Town Planning provides professional advice upon the prospects of appeal success and what your case should be comprised of. 

In the case of a refusal, the first question to ask is always whether any reasonable amendments can be made to a scheme that would overcome one or more of the reasons given for refusal?  If so, it might be more straightforward to submit a new amended planning application to your local authority – sometimes at the same time as appealing the original decision. Again, this is where a planning expert can advise you of the best strategy to obtain planning permission. 

The next step to appealing is to decide which appeal type you should choose. There are three main types of planning appeal process: written representations, hearings and inquiries. The written representation procedure is suitable for the large majority of appeals and 95% of all appeals are dealt with this way. 

Written representations are suitable when the planning issues raised can be clearly understood from the appeal documents and a site inspection or the issues are not complex and the Inspector is not likely to need to test the evidence by questioning or to clarify any other matters.

A hearing is a round table process appropriate if the Inspector is likely to need to test the evidence or clarify matters providing there is no need of evidence to be tested through formal questioning by an advocate or given on oath. A substantial level of local interest may also warrant a hearing.

Inquiries account for less than 2% of all planning appeals. An inquiry is only appropriate for complex cases where there is a clear need for evidence to be tested through formal questioning by an advocate.

Since 2020 appeal procedures can also be combined. For example, a hearing could have a written representation element to deal with one issue. This is at the discretion of the Inspector on a case-by-case basis.

How long will it take?

It is not a quick process. According to the Planning Inspectorate’s own statistics, the median time for written representations over the 12 months to October 20 was 22 weeks. For inquiries the time jumps to 59 weeks and just slightly less at 42 weeks for hearings.

How much will it cost me?

Whilst there is no fee to submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, you can expect to pay the fees of a planner or an architect if using professional help. These fees can vary significantly depending upon a number of factors such as the size and complexity of a proposal and the type of appeal procedure. A householder appeal will generally cost the least, often being less complex and there is an expedited process with fewer stages involved.

In some instances, you can make an application for costs. If either appellant or local authority does not behave reasonably, they leave themselves open to costs being awarded against them. This would be on the basis that the behaviour had directly caused another party to incur expenses that would not otherwise have been necessary. Costs may be awarded in response to an application for costs by one of the parties. Also, costs may be awarded at the initiative of the Inspector – although this is very rare.

Contact Trafford-based Acer Town Planning today, under no obligation, to understand the prospects of appealing your proposal and how much it will cost.

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