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WHAT ARE PLANNING APPEALS?
Broadly speaking, planning appeals seek to overturn a planning decision made by a local council.
Appeal a refusal of planning permission
Appeals are most commonly submitted against a council’s refusal to grant planning permission. You can also appeal against enforcement notices and conditions attached to planning permissions.
Appeal the non-determination of a planning application
In addition, a right of appeal exists if a local council fails to determine a planning application on time. This will be the case if they fail to meet the statutory determination period and you have not agreed to an extension of time. The statutory determination periods are:
Who decides planning appeals?
The Planning Inspectorate – a government agency that is independent of local councils – is responsible for deciding planning appeals.
Who can submit a planning appeal?
Appeals can normally only be submitted by the applicant. In the case of an appeal against an enforcement notice, however, the appeal can be submitted by the person(s) who own, rent or lawfully occupy the property or land. The person(s) who submits the appeal is known as the appellant.
When it comes to planning appeals, it’s helpful to think of the local council as the “defendant”, the appellant as the “claimant” and the Planning Inspectorate as the impartial “judge”.
If you require assistance with a planning appeal, send us details of your case using the button below.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT A PLANNING APPEAL?
There will normally be a deadline for the submission of a planning appeal. Deadlines for the most common types of appeal are typically as follows:
|What are you appealing?||Appeal deadline|
|Advertisement consent||8 weeks*|
|Householder – including domestic extensions, loft conversions, garages, gates etc.||12 weeks*|
|Minor commercial – including shopfront alterations, ground floor extensions||12 weeks*|
|Other planning applications – including full, outline, change of use and discharge, removal or variation of conditions||6 months*|
|Lawful development certificate (unless it affects a listed building)||None|
|Enforcement notice||1 day before the date of effect|
|Listed building consent||6 months*|
If you’re not sure what type your appeal is, contact us using the button below.
WHAT DO I NEED TO SUBMIT WITH MY PLANNING APPEAL?
A planning appeal is usually submitted online to the Planning Inspectorate. What you need to submit will vary considerably depending on the type of appeal and the planning matters involved.
Grounds of appeal statement
All appeals must be accompanied by a grounds of appeal statement. This is a quasi-legal written document. It aims to set out, in planning terms and by reference to the appropriate planning policies, those reasons why the council’s decision should be overturned.
Click the button below to find out more about Planning Direct’s grounds of appeal statements.
If your council has refused you planning permission, their decision notice must provide detailed reasons why. In these cases, your grounds of appeal statement would normally focus tightly on these reasons.
Your statement should include compelling arguments to convince the Inspector that your council’s reasons for refusal are unfounded.
Enforcement grounds of appeal
In the case of an appeal against any enforcement notice, there are specific grounds of appeal. You must select at least one of these. The specific grounds of appeal include:
(a) permission should be granted for what has occurred
(b) what the council is claiming to have occurred has not, in fact, occurred
(c) the deadline for taking enforcement action has expired.
Your written statement must contain sufficient evidence and explanation to convince the Inspector of your ground(s). The burden of proof is always on the appellant.
Depending on your particular grounds of appeal, it may also be possible to submit supplementary reports, documents or drawings to improve your chances of a successful outcome. For example, the council may have refused planning permission due to a potential impact on mature trees. In this scenario, it would be a good idea to provide a tree report with the appeal that confirmed a lack of harm.
HOW CAN PLANNING DIRECT ASSIST WITH YOUR PLANNING APPEAL?
If you’ve received a refusal of planning permission or an enforcement notice, we’d always advise you to contact us as soon as possible.
Contact Planning Direct today for free advice
Our initial advice is always free of charge. We will have a thorough look at the council’s decision and advise you whether you have any grounds to appeal. We’ll try to give you a rough estimate of your chances of a successful outcome. We’ll also explain if you have any other options available – such as a revised planning application – and help you to understand the risks and rewards of each approach. If requested, we’ll send you copies of some of our recent grounds of appeal statements (all personal information retracted) so you can get a feel for the exceptional quality of work we produce.
Once you’ve received your initial free advice, you can then make an informed decision about whether you’d like to instruct Planning Direct to prepare and manage your appeal. If requested, we’ll send you a no-obligation quotation by email.
If you instruct us, we’ll prepare your grounds of appeal statement, submit your appeal and then act as your agent. This means we liaise with the Planning Inspectorate and any other interested parties until a decision is issued. Once the decision is issued, we’ll take the time to discuss it in detail with you.
Unlike with a planning application, you only really get one shot at an appeal so it’s vital to get it right the first time.
The benefits of a planning consultant
The main benefit of hiring a competent planning consultant to prepare your appeal is they will ensure your grounds of appeal statement covers all relevant planning matters in depth and avoids mention of anything irrelevant to planning.
Where relevant, Planning Direct will also draw on technical evidence*, precedent decisions and case law** to further bolster your case.
*such as calculations of local housing need.
**significant decisions issued by the Courts.
Planning appeal decisions can have significant, long-term consequences. If an Inspector makes certain judgements about a site or development, it can seriously harm your chances of achieving planning permission on that site in the future. To avoid this unfortunate outcome, it’s important that you only submit an appeal when it’s advisable to do so. It’s equally important that your grounds of appeal statement is suitably strong, comprehensive and well-worded.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A PLANNING APPEAL IS SUBMITTED?
The Planning Inspectorate’s admin team will look through the appeal documents to confirm the appeal is valid. Following this, a Planning Inspector will be assigned to the case and they will select the appropriate appeal procedure.
Most appeals follow the “written representations” procedure. This is where the appellant submits a written grounds of appeal statement. Both the council and members of the public are then invited to submit written statements of their own. Following this, the appellant and the council will be provided with the opportunity to submit final written statements. The final statements should respond to the arguments made by the other party and must not raise new issues. Afterwards, the Inspector will normally conduct a site visit. The Inspector will then consider the case in full, having regard to their site visit and the written statements of all parties. The Inspector will then proceed to write their decision letter, dismissing or allowing the appeal. The letter should provide the Inspector’s view on each of the key planning matters in dispute.
FAST-TRACK APPEALS – HOUSEHOLDER & MINOR COMMERCIAL
Minor householder and minor commercial appeals follow a “fast-tracked written representations” procedure. This is a streamlined version of the normal “written representations” procedure. The appellant still submits a comprehensive grounds of appeal statement. However, there is no opportunity for the council or members of the public to submit written statements of their own. The council will be provided the opportunity to identify only factual errors in the appellant’s written statement. The Inspector will still conduct a site visit and, following this, proceed to write a detailed decision letter.
HEARINGS & PUBLIC INQUIRIES
Occasionally, appeals will follow a “hearing” or “inquiry” procedure. This is typically only the case for development that is especially large, complex or contentious. If one of these procedures is selected, the appellant must still submit a comprehensive grounds of appeal statement upon submission of their appeal. Further written statements from the parties will follow. The Inspector will then consider all of the written submissions and set a date for the hearing/inquiry. The Inspector will decide what issues are to be discussed at the hearing/inquiry and send out an agenda for the event to all parties.
At the hearing/inquiry, both the council and the appellant (or their representative/s) will provide their case verbally and answer the Inspector’s questions. Hearings/inquiries are normally open to the public who will usually be provided the opportunity to speak. Once the hearing/inquiry has closed, the Inspector typically conducts a site visit. Following this, the Inspector will proceed to write their decision letter, dismissing or allowing the appeal. The letter should provide the Inspector’s view on each of the key planning matters in dispute.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OR BENEFIT OF A PLANNING APPEAL?
Overturn the decision
The primary aim of a planning appeal will always be to overturn the decision of a local council. National statistics indicate that roughly 1 in 3 planning appeals are successful.
However, there are a number of other key benefits to submitting a planning appeal that you should consider.
The first of these is to gain some time. Most appeals take roughly 6 months to reach a decision and some take far longer. In certain cases, the additional time gained can be very valuable. For example, the council may have issued an enforcement notice requiring you to demolish a building or cease the use of a property. If you appeal that notice, you will not have to take any action until the appeal is determined. If the appeal is lost, you will typically still have gained at least 6 months’ additional use out of the site. This might include, for example, an additional 6 months’ worth of rental payments.
Narrow down the planning issues
The second of these is to narrow down – or confirm – the planning issues in hand. The Planning Inspectorate has greater authority than local councils. This means that a local council cannot overrule or act contrary to the recent judgements of an Inspector without very good reason. Consequently, the detailed decision letter of the Inspector can help you to prepare a revised planning application that your local council will approve.
Set yourself up for success next time
For example, your planning application may have been refused for 6 separate reasons. The Inspector might agree that 5 of these reasons are unfounded but proceed to dismiss the appeal for 1 reason only. Provided that reason is resolvable – e.g. with a revised design – your local council is highly likely to approve the revised application.
Similarly, the Inspector’s decision letter may firmly indicate that a different form of development would be acceptable. For example, they may agree with the council that the design of the new dwelling is inappropriate but make clear that this is only due to its 2 storey height. If you were then to go back to your local council with a similar design but brought down to 1 storey in height, they would have no legitimate design grounds to refuse it.
HOW MUCH DO PLANNING APPEALS COST?
There is normally no fee to submit a planning appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. The only cost associated with most appeals is the fee paid to a consultant to prepare and manage it on your behalf.
Send us details of your case here for a no-obligation, fixed-price quotation.
The only planning appeals that attract a submission fee are Grounds A enforcement appeals. Find out more about enforcement here:
You are always entitled to submit an appeal yourself, avoiding any cost. However, we would advise you to take a quick look at our answer to “How can Planning Direct assist with your planning appeal?” if you are contemplating this option.
Where there is good cause, you can make a costs claim upon submission of your appeal. If your claim is successful, your local council will be required to pay all or part of your appeal costs. Your appeal costs cover only the expenses associated with the submission of your appeal – normally the fee paid to your planning consultant. There is no potential to recover money spent before the appeal.
Appeal costs are only awarded in very limited circumstances. If we think you have a good chance of recovering your appeal costs, we’ll discuss this option with you when we first take on your appeal. You can find out more about applying for an award of appeal costs using the button below.
HOW LONG DO PLANNING APPEALS TAKE?
How long an appeal takes will depend, firstly, on how long it takes for a suitable Inspector to become available in your local area. If your appeal is specialised* or there is a large local caseload**, the wait will be longer.
*e.g. it concerns matters of heritage significance such as works to a listed building.
**e.g. most parts of inner London.
The below timeframes should give you an indication of roughly how long each type of planning appeal takes. They are based on statistics published by the Planning Inspectorate, supplemented by our own knowledge and experience. Please take them with a pinch of salt!
|Standard written representations||6 – 10 months|
|Fast-track written representations||4 – 6 months|
|Public Inquiry||12 months +|
|Enforcement cases||Add 1 – 2 months|