The Government published finding of an independent review on Planning Appeal Inquiry timescales this week. The review, chaired by Bridget Roswell, found that: ‘the average time to decide a planning inquiry could be slashed from an average of 47 weeks to around 26 weeks’.
The report makes 22 recommendations to speed up the inquiries process including the introduction of a new online portal for the submission of inquiry appeals and preparation of a strategy for recruiting additional Inspectors so inquiries can be scheduled sooner, reducing the length of time they take to conclude.
The reforms proposed are largely straightforward and practical and require the Planning Inspector to become more proactive in managing the inquiry process. Whilst only 2% of appeals are determined through inquiry, they remain a valuable option in cases where detailed presentation and cross-examination of key issues is required and, overall, the proportion of inquiry appeals that are allowed is higher than other appeal procedures (including hearings and written reps).
Firstplan welcome any measures which will speed up the management of the process without compromising the quality of decisions. If implemented, Roswell’s recommendations should indeed help to cut the currently excessive determination times, giving developers more certainty and reducing costs associated with the inquiry process.
Ministers will publish a formal response in the ‘coming months’.
If you have any queries regarding planning appeals procedures or timescales, please feel free to contact one of the Firstplan team.