The average time to decide a planning appeal inquiry could be cut from 47 to 26 weeks according to the findings of an Independent Review published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Bridget Rosewell, who carried out the review, said that the most contentious planning cases could be decided up to five months faster, and some in half the time, giving certainty to communities about future developments.

Faster inquiries into contested development will, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said, give house builders and local communities more certainty on when decisions will be made, while also maintaining the ability of the appeals system to prevent inappropriate development.

Available at GOV.UK website, the Rosewell report focuses on how to improve in practical ways the operation of the appeal process for those planning appeals where an inquiry is required or relevant.

It notes that there are around 15,000 appeals against local authority planning decisions each year but only a small minority are sufficiently large or complex to require the kind of investigation that an inquiry represents.

“My investigation has shown that, at present, the inquiry process takes nearly a year to complete from lodging the appeal to a decision for inspector decided cases,” Ms Rosewell said. “This is just too long, and I believe that there are some relatively simple changes that can make it a shorter process, which is easier for all parties.”

What is proposed?

The report made 22 recommendations ranging from committing the Planning Inspectorate to introducing a new online portal for the submission of inquiry appeals to setting out a strategy for recruiting additional inspectors so inquiries can be scheduled sooner, reducing the length of time they take to conclude.

The Planning Inspectorate will prepare an implementation plan which will set out precisely how it will deliver these recommendations.

The Government will consider the findings before publishing a response in the coming months. It has already said that the Review is part of its programme of reforms and targeted investment to ensure it delivers 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Last reviewed 26 February 2019