Our team is composed of a range of experienced Chartered Town Planners with experience on both the public and private sector. Representing any client in an appeal is considered an important responsibility by the company and every case is fought with all the necessary preparation and knowledge at our disposal. We advise carefully on any prospect at appeal, and as a result our record of success is higher than the national average for allowed appeals.
Advice on Planning Appeals
When an application is refused planning permission there is always the option to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the Council’s decision. However it is our policy to assess firstly whether or not the proposal can be the subject of negotiation with the Council, to avoid the unnecessary expense and delay of an appeal. This is always the preferred route to secure a successful outcome. However this is not always possible and we will then give impartial advice on whether or not it is actually worth conducting an appeal. We will never knowingly advise a client to pursue an appeal if we think the chances of success are limited. So, what type of appeal is required…..?
Exchange of Written Statements
At the point of the lodging of an appeal the Appellant must set out a summary of their grounds of appeal together with their full statement of case and all the relevant documentation. The Inspectorate will then ‘validate’ the appeal and formally register it. The Local Authority then may submit a full statement of case and must do so within 4 weeks of the start date of appeal. Following this all parties are given up two weeks to provide final comments on each other’s cases. Once this exchange of statements has taken place an Inspector is appointed to deal with the case and he/she will visit the site, often although not always accompanied by all parties, having firstly read all the documentation. No further representations are allowed during this site visit and the Inspector will then issue the decision after the completion of the site inspection. Occasionally an Inspector may also require that further information is provided on a specific topic or range of issues, with such detail required to be concise and accurate.
There is the option given to appellants to ask for an Informal Hearing. This is the same procedure as an exchange of written statements except on the day of the Inspector’s site visit and Informal Hearing is held. This is effectively a round table discussion upon all the issues and it is led by the Inspector. There is no cross-examination and no reading out of submissions. It is, as the title implies, and informal way of getting to the heart of the issues and an opportunity for us as Appellant’s representatives to question the Council’s decision in front of an Inspector. Similarly of course the planning officer can question our belief that permission should be allowed.
Once these discussions are complete, a site inspection is carried out where in most cases the discussions continue, and this is an opportunity to point matters out to the Inspector. Again once the site inspection is completed the Inspector will close the Hearing on site and go away and make his/her decision. Hearings are usually completed by lunchtime and rarely last a day.
This method of appeal is only required in complex cases, such as large applications for retail or major housing developments. There is usually an advocate involved (Solicitor, Barrister) and each side’s expert witness will be subject to cross-examination by the other side’s advocate. Public Inquiries can last for days and are not really suitable for most applications.
Enforcement Notice appeals
These appeals can be dealt with in either of the above ways, but the grounds of an appeal are strictly limited. Much will depend on the nature of the Enforcement Notice, and it should be noted that usually there is a much stricter timetable on these types of appeal than normal refusals of permission and so professional advice is often imperative because if the appeal deadline is missed and the Notice is not complied with, then the owner can be taken to Court by the Authority.
Householder, Advertisement Consent, and Minor Commercial Appeals
For applications that fall within set criteria a simplified appeal process is now available which is intended to allow Appellant’s who have had a refusal of a householder application, applications for ‘minor commercial’ development, or advisement consent, to appeal through a ‘slimmed down’ process and to receive a more rapid decision. However, the deadline for submitting such appeals is shorter at only 12 weeks (or less in the case of certain types of advertisement appeal) as versus 6 months for a ‘standard’ appeal against refusal of planning permission.
These types of appeal require that the Appellant provide their full case at the start, and that it is focused and concise, with the Local Authority required to rely only upon its original decision and supporting documents. The opportunity for each party to respond to the others case is also removed.
As this route only provides one opportunity to make your case it is vital that expert advice is sought at the start of the process to ensure that the arguments are properly set out and any weakness in the Local Authority’s approach is examined and exposed.