HOW TO APPEAL A PLANNING REFUSAL OR ENFORCEMENT NOTICE
AN INTRODUCTION TO PLANNING APPEALS
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Today we take a look at planning appeals – what they are, how and when to appeal, things to watch out for in terms of deadlines and process and tips on how to give your appeal the best possible chance of success.
Image credit: planning inspectorate/Flickr
If you live in England and have had a planning application (or other type of application such as for Listed Building Consent) refused, or have been issued with an enforcement notice by your local council, you may be able to appeal the decision.
Planning appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate, an independent body that operates on behalf of the government.
Step 1: Check if you can appeal
Before you begin the appeal process, you need to make sure that you have the right to do so and the following should be considered.
Only the person who made a planning application can appeal the decision (or get someone to appeal on their behalf).
If you are a neighbour or other interested party, there is no right to appeal a local authority decision. In such cases a judicial review against the decision is the only practical recourse. Such a challenge would look only into the way in which a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.
Appeals can also be made on grounds of ‘non-determination’, where a local planning authority have not issued a decision by their designated target date for the application. This is usually 8-weeks for a householder or minor application and 13-weeks for a major application taken from date of validation.
In cases where an application has been refused or in an enforcement case, a notice will be issued setting out the reasons for the refusal or action being taken.
Be aware of deadlines for your appeal.
If your application was refused, or granted with conditions, you can appeal for up to 6 months from the date on your local planning authority’s (LPA) decision letter – unless it is a ‘householder’ application, when an appeal must be submitted within 12 weeks.
If you have not received a decision, you can appeal for up to 6 months from the date your decision was due to arrive.
For enforcement notices, the Inspectorate advise that you will have less time to appeal if you received an enforcement notice in the last 2 years.
If you received the enforcement notice before your application was refused, you have 28 days from the date on your decision letter to appeal.
If the enforcement notice came after your application was refused, you need to appeal by whichever of these dates is sooner:
- 28 days from the date you received the enforcement notice
- 6 months from the date on your application decision letter
Consider seeking expert advice
It is strongly recommended that you seek expert advice before appealing a planning permission decision.
This could be from a planning consultant, architect, or solicitor, who will be able to review your case and provide an honest assessment of your chances of success. They will also be able to help you prepare the strongest possible case and advise on the best type of appeal to pursue. This is particularly important in enforcement cases.
Acting Unreasonably – Beware of Costs!
Should you believe that the LPA has cost you money by behaving unreasonably, you may apply for costs against them. For example if you think their reasons for refusal cannot be substantiated (reasonably) or their behaviour has caused you to miss a deadline.
However, it is important to be aware that the LPA can also apply to get costs from you should you submit a spurious appeal or act unreasonably during the appeal process.
Step 2: Choose the type of appeal
There are three types of appeals that you can make, depending on the circumstances of your case:
Written representations appeal:
This is the most common type of appeal, and it involves submitting written evidence to the Planning Inspectorate. This type of appeal is suitable for cases that are straightforward and do not require an inquiry or hearing.
Informal hearing appeal:
This type of appeal involves a hearing, where you and the local planning authority present your cases to an inspector having previously issued a written statement of case and full grounds of appeal beforehand. The inspector then makes a decision based on the evidence presented and having asked questions at the hearing. This type of appeal is suitable for cases that are more complex and require discussion and clarification.
Public inquiry appeal:
This is the most formal type of appeal, and it involves a public inquiry where all parties present their evidence and arguments. Advocates for each side have the opportunity to cross examine witnesses on their evidence. A planning inspector will then make a decision based on the evidence presented following the inquiry. This type of appeal is suitable for cases that are particularly large, complex and/or controversial.
Step 3: Prepare your case
Once you have decided on the type of appeal, you need to prepare your case.
Evidence is key to the success of any appeal. You will need to gather all relevant documents, including the planning permission decision notice, planning application, and any other supporting documents.
You will be asked to prepare a statement outlining your case, including the reasons for the appeal and how you believe the decision is incorrect.
This may involve gathering evidence, such as photographs, maps, and expert reports, to support your case.
If your planning application was refused, it is essential to address the reasons for the refusal in your appeal. This could involve providing new evidence or addressing any concerns raised by the local planning authority. It is important to be clear and concise in your arguments and to back them up with evidence.
Step 4: Submit your appeal
To submit your appeal, you will need to complete the relevant form, which is available on the Planning Inspectorate website. You will not need to pay a fee.
Once you have submitted your appeal, the Planning Inspectorate will acknowledge receipt and provide you with a reference number, setting out further steps and any further information that needs to be provided and by when.
It is very important when submitting an appeal to be sure to meet any deadlines set out by the Inspectorate.
Be prepared for a site visit. The inspector will visit the site to get a better understanding of the case. It is important to be prepared for this. Ensure that the site is tidy and accessible and that any relevant documents or evidence are available.
Step 5: Await the decision
The appeal process can take several months, so it is important to be patient.
The Planning Inspectorate will consider all the evidence presented and make a decision based on the facts of the case. For hearing and inquiry appeals, this will follow the hearing sessions and a site visit by the Inspector.
It is important to remain positive and focused throughout the process and to be prepared for any outcome.
The decision will be communicated to you in writing, and it will explain the reasons for the decision.
Appealing a planning permission decision can be a complex and challenging process. However, by being prepared, choosing the right type of appeal, seeking expert advice, gathering evidence, addressing the reasons for refusal, being prepared for a site visit, and being patient, you can give yourself the best chance of success.
There is a wealth of further information on planning appeals on the Planning Inspectorate website.
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