How to Appeal Planning Permission: 12 Questions to Consider Before You Start

Planning Permission 13 January 2022

Did you know that statistically you only have a 30% chance of winning a planning appeal?

We agree, that’s not very high!

But that’s the reason why it’s important to have a very clear understanding of the process before you decide to go down that route.

To help you better understand whether that’s the best option for you, we’ve answered the 12 most commonly asked questions below.

  1. Why might planning permission be refused?
  2. What are the best reasons for appealing planning permission?
  3. What are the different types of planning appeal?
  4. What is in the appeal application?
  5. What happens after my appeal is validated?
  6. What factors are the most important in your planning appeal?
  7. How long will my appeal take?
  8. Are there restrictions on when you can appeal?
  9. Who will be reviewing your appeal?
  10. What are the costs associated with appealing planning permission?
  11. What are the chances of winning an appeal?
  12. What if my appeal is dismissed?

1. Why might planning permission be refused?

When it comes to householder planning applications, the planning officer assessing your application on behalf of your local authority will typically focus on three main topics: Impact on character, the impact on your neighbour’s, and also how your extensions might affect your own living conditions. Each of these is discussed in slightly more detail below.

Character

When planners refer to character, they usually refer to the character of your own house and also the character of the area more widely. In terms of planning policy, most boroughs will have what’s called a ‘residential design guidance’ document which is designed to help everyday homeowners understand what types of extension are acceptable. With regard to the typical depths of single storey rear extensions, most planning authorities will allow the depths below depending on the type of house you own:

  • Terraced: 3m deep single storey rear extension
  • Semi-detached: 3.5m deep single storey rear extension
  • Detached: 4m deep single storey rear extension

It should be noted that guidance is generic and should be used as a starting point. There are lots of other factors such as levels changes or building lines which might change the assessment.

In terms of character, applications are usually rejected because extensions are either too deep and/or too tall, and planners might decide they are not subordinate features of the existing house and might also be larger than other extensions on your street, thus harming the area’s character.

Impact on your neighbours

This issue is often linked to character. In streets where houses are located relatively close to one another, extensions which are either too tall, deep or close to your neighbour’s boundary could harm their living conditions in the form of loss of light, loss of outlook or create an increased sense of enclosure.

Impact on your living conditions

This is a slightly more unusual reason for refusal when it comes to householder planning applications, but one example might be if you were to propose an extension that took up such a large proportion of your garden that you weren’t left with sufficient space. In this case, the planning officer might well refuse an application.

A pile of appeal decisions

2. What are the best reasons for appealing planning permission?

There are three main reasons why one might want to appeal a planning application.

Disagree with the Decision Notice

The first is probably the most commonly used reason, which is that you simply disagree with the local authority’s decision. For example, if you had proposed a 4m deep single storey extension and the planners had said it was too big, you might take to Google maps 3D and find lots of other extensions exactly like your on the street and also find some previously approved extensions on the site history. These would be a good reason to appeal such a decision.

Non-determination

The second is called ‘non determination’, which means that your local planning authority did not issue a decision within the statutory time period which is typically 8 weeks for a householder planning application. In some instances, planning officers simply have too many applications and not enough time to process those applications which results in them running past the expiry date. It’s always better to do your best to get in contact with the planning team or perhaps speak to your local councilor if that doesn’t work. Appealing non determination can take more than 16 weeks in some cases so should only really be used as a last resort.

3. What are the different types of planning appeals?

There are typically three different types of appeal:

Written representation

This applies to most householder planning applications and involves the applicant or planning consultant preparing a ‘statement of case’ outlining the details of the application, but most importantly clearly setting out why the application should have been approved. It is not always possible to amend your plans at this stage as the appeal inspector might well say that the neighbour’s had not had a chance to comment on those changes but it is acceptable to provide additional information to make your case stronger.

For example, if your extension was refused because it overshadowed your neighbour’s garden you could instruct a lighting consultant to prepare a report to find out if that was the case. If the consultant found there were no issues, the appeal inspector would certainly attach a huge amount of weight to that new report.

Appeal hearing

These are usually reserved for slightly more complex applications and take longer than a written representation appeal. This involves a meeting between the applicant team and usually the local authority planning officer. The inspector is there as an educator and hears both side’s arguments before issuing a written decision after having carefully considered all the relevant points.

Usually, the inspector will highlight the areas in which neither party agree and will then split the meeting up to focus on each issue in turn. This often proves a useful forum to argue over technical matters. For example, if there is a disagreement over a particular site’s density, each input to that density calculation might be discussed in turn. There may be a debate of whether the application site should be considered ‘urban’ or ‘suburban’ which has knock on effects to the relevant calculations.

Public enquiry

These kinds of appeal are reserved for the most complex major planning applications and are similar to a court of law in that members of the relevant teams will be cross examined by a property barrister before the inspector issues a written decision.

4. What is in the appeal application?

Submitting a planning appeal is a relatively straightforward and interactive process.

  • Applicant details
  • Agent details
  • Local Planning Authority details
  • Appeal site address
  • Description of the development
  • Reason for the appeal
  • Choice of procedure
    • Written representation
    • Hearing
    • Enquiry
  • Upload ‘appeal statement of case’
  • Upload supporting document
  • Sign and date

The written statement of case is the most important document submitted and includes a full analysis of why you disagree with each reason for refusal. It should be noted that the local planning authority will also produce written evidence to further support their case as well as any other interested parties.

5. What happens after my appeal is validated?

When an appeal is validated, the inspectorate will write to all interested parties to set out dates by which the relevant written representation should be submitted. In the case of householder planning appeals there is no opportunity to submit further information once the appeal has been submitted.

During the course of the appeal and before a decision is issued the inspector will arrange a site visit where normally both the appellate (or representative) and planning officer will be present but no verbal submissions are allowed at the time. The site visit is simply designed to give the inspector context for darting the application.

An office sign which includes the words Planning Inspectorate

6. What factors are the most important in your planning appeal?

The three most important factors in your appeal are the decision notice issued by the local authority setting out the relevant reasons for refusal. Second, every decision will also be accompanied by a ‘delegated report’ which also sets out the rationale behind each reason for refusal and a carefully considered assessment of all the relevant concerns. Finally, the appeal statement of case should clearly set out any points which have been raised by the council which you do not agree with, with reasons why. It may be that you produce further plans or reports to support your points.

7. How long will my appeal take?

Unlike planning applications there is no statutory time period within which appeals need to be determined. That being said, the planning inspectorate (the body tasked with determining appeals) provided statistics on how long it has taken to determine appeals each month. At the time of writing this blog the average time period for determining a householder planning appeal through written representation was 19 weeks.

Please click on the link below for further details:

Appeals: how long they take – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

8. Are there restrictions on when you can appeal?

If you disagree with the local authority’s decision and wish to appeal you must submit the appeal within 6 months of the decision being made.

If the local authority failed to issue a decision an appeal must be submitted within 6 months of the statutory decision date.

Appeals concerning enforcement notices are slightly different and must be appealed within 28 days of the enforcement notice being issued.

9. Who will be reviewing your appeal?

Appeals are managed and determined by the planning inspectorate. They are an independent body not linked to either the local authority or the applicant and are sponsored by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

10. What are the costs associated with appealing planning permission?

There are no costs involved in making a planning appeal, but you may wish to employ the services of a planning consultant to manage the process and prepare your ‘statement of case’.

In what circumstances can you apply for costs?

As an applicant, you can apply for costs if you feel the local authority has acted ‘unreasonably’, or where these unreasonable actions have forced you to incur unreeled wasted expenses.

It should also be noted that local authorities can apply for costs against the appellant if they themselves have acted unreasonably.

What costs can be claimed?

You can claim costs which are directly linked to your appeal, including:

  • Time spent preparing the appeal
  • Attending a hearing or enquiry
  • Professional fees associated with preparing the appeal
  • Witnesses (if required)

Deadline for claiming costs

This depends on the type of appeal you have chosen. With regard to householder planning applications, you should submit your costs application at the same time as submitting your appeal. With regard to hearings and public enquires, the costs application should be made before it closes.

11. What are the chances of winning an appeal?

According to the planning inspectorate records, approximately one in every three appeals is successful.

Appeals can be a very useful tool for homeowners, but that’s only if you win.

At Adara, our team is made up of former local authority planning offers and we have a very good understanding of all local planning policies and we also know how the planning system works in practice which is invaluable when agreeing complex extensions. This also explains why our success rate is so high.

On complex projects we would always advise you to engage with your local planning authority before an application is submitted. This will not only help build a collaborative working relationship with your planning officer but will also highlight any potential issues early on which will give your design team sufficient time to address any outstanding points. This approach will help the planning officer feel more invested in your project, and they will then be more likely to offer solutions to any concerns raised.

12. What if my appeal is dismissed?

In the first instance the most important step is to go through each point made by the appeal interceptor. In some instances, the inspector may not agree with all the comments made by the local authority and your design team can help suggest any number of revisions to address issues.

Depending on what needs to be fixed, we would suggest amending the refused drawings to address any concerns raised by the inspector and submitting those plans to your local authority. Any comments made by the appeal inspector will be given significant weight.

There are a number of government resources commenting on the appeals process, the most comprehensive of which would be:

Planning appeals: procedural guide – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

If you do wish to make a planning appeal here is the link you go to:

Appeal or search for a planning decision or notice – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Conclusion

At Adara, we are a team of both creative architects and former local authority planners all working within the same office. When our design and planning skills are combined, we can come up with very creative solutions to overcome the most complex planning constraints which is why our success rate is so high.

In terms of how our unique process works, we first arrange a free consultation with your dedicated planning consultant to discuss your ideas, local planning policies, and your budget. After the advice stage our experienced architects will create a full set of plans which not only bring all your ideas to life, but also meet all the relevant planning requirements. Once you have agreed the final set of plans your dedicated planning consultant will submit the application and then wait only 8 weeks for it to be approved.

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