Expert advice - planning application appeals

Even the most thorough and well prepared planning applications can be refused, which can feel frustrating given the amount of time and effort that goes in. 

We caught up with Suzanne Asher of Asher Planning Ltd to offer her advice on how to deal with a planning application refusal and what you need to know about an appeal.


What are the options if my planning application is refused? 

First of all, you should download the decision notice and the planning officer’s report (sometimes called the delegated report) from the Council’s website and read them carefully to find out why planning permission was refused. If you think you can make changes to your proposal which the Council will be happy with, this is often the best way forward. If you resubmit your application with a year, you do not need to pay a Council planning fee, this is known as your “free go”.

If it is not possible to get around the reasons for refusal, and you think you have a good case, you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, an independent body who will evaluate the application again.


What is the process of an appeal?

You have to appeal a householder application within 12 weeks of the date of the decision notice, and a planning appeal within 6 months.  

Most appeals are dealt with through the “written representations” process. More complicated applications can be dealt with through a hearing or an inquiry. Hearings are a round table discussion led by the Inspector and inquiries are more formal.

Under the written representations process, once you have submitted the appeal and sent a copy to the Council, you will receive a start letter setting out all the relevant dates and what further documents are required when. The Council will be allowed time to prepare and submit their own arguments. You will then get the opportunity to comment on the Council’s submission. The Inspector will visit the site (you are not allowed to talk to him/her). Soon after the site visit you will receive a decision.


What are the documents that are required and who can help me?

Under the written representations process, you need to put together all the arguments in a statement of case, and include any additional information in appendices - for example details of similar applications permitted elsewhere, similar proposals allowed at appeal, national and local planning policies, photographs and correspondence. It useful to employ a planning consultant to handle the appeal for you, to ensure that you put forward the best case possible. In particularly complex cases you may also wish to appoint a solicitor who specialises in planning law.


What are the time frames of an appeal?

Unfortunately the Planning Inspectorate is currently dealing with a large number of cases and appeals are subject to significant delays. Current time frames for written representations are 14 weeks for a householder appeal and 28 weeks for a planning appeal. Hearings and inquiries will take even longer.


What are the chances of the appeal being successful and is there anything I can do if the appeal is rejected?

Your planning consultant can advise on the likelihood of the appeal being successful - this depends on the individual case and reasons for refusal. Overall in England, around one-third of appeals are successful.  

There are two routes to challenging an appeal decision. You can make an application to the High Court on a point of law - this must be made within six weeks of the date of the decision letter. Or you can make an application for a judicial review - this must be lodged within three months. In this case you need to show that the local authority made an irrational decision or that there was a procedural irregularity. Both these options are technical and can be costly.


Is there a cost for an appeal?

The Planning Inspectorate does not charge a fee. You will need to of course pay fees to any planning consultant or solicitor that you engage.


Do you have any other advice?

Before you decide to go ahead with an appeal, think carefully and ask for advice from a planning consultant. If it is at all possible to revise the scheme in line with Council requirements, and resubmit it, this is a quicker and easier way forward.  

If you do go ahead, think about how to make a clear and straightforward case. Refer to national and local planning policies. Look for comparable applications nearby which have been permitted. Include photographs if this helps to demonstrate your points.  


Published: December 4, 2018

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