Beyond the headlines: the independent review of planning appeal inquiries

Beyond the headlines: the independent review of planning appeal inquiries

The outcome of Bridget Rosewell’s independent review of planning appeal inquiries has triggered a series of headlines focusing on, and welcoming, the proposals to cut the time taken for planning inquiries by half. 

The headlines are based on recommendation 21 of the report published on 12 February 2019, the which states that:

 The Planning Inspectorate should adopt the following targets for the effective management of inquiry appeals from receipt to decision:

  1. Inquiry appeals decided by the Inspector

Receipt to decision – within 24 weeks - 90% of cases

Receipt to decision – within 26 weeks - remaining 10% of cases

  1. Inquiry appeals decided by the Secretary of State

Receipt to submission of inspector’s report - within 30 weeks - 100% of cases 

Those targets compare favourably to the finding, set out at the start of the report, that for the period of 2017/2018, the average time from receipt of an appeal to decision by an inspector following an inquiry was 47 weeks (and longer for recovered appeals and inquiries into called-in applications).

The government has also been quick to say that speeding up decisions in this way can help the government achieve its ambition of delivering 300,000 homes each year by the mid-2020s.

However, what lies beneath the government spin is more nuanced and deserves further commentary. 

On the aspect of housing delivery, it is of note that the government’s terms of reference required that the review should focus particularly on the role of planning appeal inquiries in major housing schemes. Nevertheless, the review does not make any specific findings in respect of how inquiries into such sche

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About the author:
Sarah worked in planning departments at several city firms, including SJ Berwin, Wragge Lawrence Graham and Norton Rose Fulbright, before joining LexisNexis UK in January 2017. She has experience of planning and compulsory purchase law and regularly advised landowners, investors and developers on all planning law aspects, with a particular focus on large-scale development, regeneration and infrastructure schemes. Sarah also has considerable experience conducting planning-related legal proceedings.