Obtaining planning permission can be a long and complicated process, and on occasion, a local planning authority may refuse your application.
If you do receive planning refusal, as a landowner, you may be thinking, what’s next?
To help guide you through those next crucial steps, we’re going to look at why applications are usually rejected and how to approach the planning appeals process.
Let’s dive in.
What went wrong? The most common reasons for planning refusal
As a practical insight into why you might receive planning refusal, here are the most common reasons why local planning authorities reject applications:
On-site constraints: There are several on-site constraints that could result in planning refusal. For instance, on-site flood risk due to water sources and insufficient risk mitigation provided for the issues through the proposals. Constraints including ecology, noise, and air quality often result in planning refusal. Whether you’re planning an affordable housing scheme, a commercial development or any other kind of scheme, you must take these constraints into consideration.
Impact on surrounding property: Sometimes a planning application is refused due to the proposal’s impact on surrounding receptors—instances such as issues relating to a nearby footpath, the residential amenity of a neighbouring property or the impact on the setting of a limited heritage asset.
Policy: When determining an application, the local planning authority will look to cross-reference the proposals with both national policy (including housing allocation policy) and local policy contained within the district’s local development plan. As such, a refusal may not always boil down to physical constraints (both on-site or off-site) but may relate to planning issues like OAN, site allocation, status of the district’s five-year housing land supply, and possibly even the age of the local development plan plus whether any weight could be afforded to proposals with an emerging plan.
The planning appeal process: what you need to know
Although planning refusal is never a desirable outcome for a landowner, is by no means the end of the process. You can appeal.
Under the UK’s planning law, you can appeal the local planning authority’s decision if you don’t agree with the outcome. You also have the option of submitting a scheme for free, as long as the details aren’t wildly different from the original application.
At this point, we should also note that an appeal isn’t exclusive to planning refusal—you can also go through the process as a result of non-determination by the local authority—if confirmation takes longer than 13 weeks or if you’re unhappy with some of the conditions being proposed, for instance.
The planning appeal process can prove quite complicated and the end-to-end process is entirely at the applicant’s expense. But, although a local planning authority won’t contribute to your planning appeal costs, if it is deemed that someone involved in the process has behaved unreasonably, resulting in an additional (and unnecessary) expense to the applicant, you can claim compensation.
You can claim compensation, for example, if deadlines are missed or a particular party involved with the process has not been cooperating with you.
As you’re no doubt aware by this point, the planning appeal process is complex and time-consuming. So, as land professionals, we’ve broken down the process into simple steps with this flowchart:
As you can see, when you receive planning refusal, you have three definitive options. You can:
- Walk away from the application.
- Submit a free second go within 12 months of the refusal date .
- Go down the route of a planning appeal.
If you do decide to take option three, you must gather all of the relevant details and documentation and notify the Planning Inspector (commonly known as PINS) as well as the local planning authority of your decision to appeal.
Once you’ve raised your intentions, you can make an appeal submission to PINS through the official appeals casework portal, which is similar to the planning portal for application submissions. If you do want to submit an appeal you must do so within 12 weeks of the date of refusal.
During the process, you will be required to submit copies of the original application, plus anything that you sent to the local planning authority post-submission. Typically, other documents and information are exchanged at a later date.
Following submission, the validation team at PINS will check the submission and assign an inspector to your case while notifying the local planning authority. Next, the inspector will decide on the type of procedure (usually, a decision is made on a site by site basis), choosing from written representations, hearings or a public inquiry.
Each procedure varies in terms of complexity, with written representation often the quickest route to determination with hearings and public inquiries taking significantly longer.
If your planning appeal is allowed, you can proceed on the basis that an application on your land has been approved. But, if your appeal is dismissed and you feel the decision may be unjust, you can take your decision to the high court in some instances, although doing so can become incredibly costly and time-consuming.
How to increase your planning appeal success
To maximise your chances of planning appeal success, as a landowner you should aim to nurture your relationship with the local planning authority as well as any third parties that could be involved in the appeals process, especially Rule 6 parties.
Rule 6 parties are usually local resident groups, neighbours or non-governmental groups that may have a stake or an opinion in your planning appeals process. These particular groups can voice their objections or opinions during hearings or public inquiries, so keeping an open dialogue with these groups is advisable.
Most importantly, while it’s possible to go through the planning appeal process yourself, for the best possible chances of success, you should seek the expertise of a local land expert. Involving a legal professional to help navigate the process is also something to consider.
Montague Property Group is an organisation that can guide you through every step of the appeals process and will put you in contact with legal representatives that will put forward your case to appeal while liaising with planners that will ensure the successful promotion of your land and achieve the best possible outcome.
If you’re planning to launch an appeal and you need an expert to steer you through the process, please contact us. We’ll be happy to help.