The Planning Portal has released statistics that show that the ‘bounce back’ in planning applications continues with volume increasing by 17% relative to this time last year. This headline does mask considerable regional variation in the absolute number of applications and % change, with the South West showing one of the smallest increases nationally. Brett Spiller, Director of Chapman Lily Planning commented ‘This may well be a reflection of the fact that planning activity appeared to hold up rather well in the South West last year, despite the challenges posed by Covid’. In terms of the type of applications submitted, it will come as no surprise to those in the industry that there has been a surge in householder, prior approval, advertisement and lawful development certificate applications.
The Planning Inspectorate has also released statistics, revealing that over the last 5 years:
-There have been around 55,000 planning appeals
-28% of the appeals have been allowed, which together with Secretary of State call ins have allowed almost 120,000 homes.
-Around 1,100 appeals have been determined at planning inquiries – of those, almost 50% have been allowed.
-49 appeals for 50+ home schemes in the Green Belt of which 17 have succeeded.
Brett added that ‘this is broadly consistent with previous analysis. It shows that whilst recourse to appeal is always an option, the risks in terms of time, expense and outcome warrants careful consideration and should always be weighed against other options (where they exist)..
As widely reported by other commentators, little weight appears to be given to addressing deficiencies in housing land supply, particularly within urban areas – the tilted balance is increasingly seen as a ‘toothless tiger’. In my experience and opinion this is all too frequently reaffirmed in appeal decisions. Thus, in my opinion, the Planning Inspectorate must accept some responsibility for the planning systems failure to deliver sufficient homes in the UK.’
Before there is a sudden clammer for Public Inquiries, where the odds look more favourable, I should emphasise that this procedure is reserved for the most complex cases, often entailing legal arguments. Whilst applicants can express a preference as to the procedure, the ultimate decision rests with the planning Inspectorate. We have seen a consistent drive towards appeals being dealt with under the written representations procedure.
Brett added ‘It would have been good to have seen statistics on the average determination time for different appeals, as I remain concerned that delays in the appeal system are in effect denying the right of appealing for non-determination where Local Planning Authorities are failing to perform – with many applicants caught between a rock and a hard place.
With respect to strategic scale housing developments in Green Belt, you’ll note that the actual number of appeals is relatively low. As readers will be aware, the tilted balance does not apply to sites within the Green Belt. Only a select few cases, each playing to a unique set of ‘very special circumstances’, have in fact been pursued and almost all of the 17 allowed appeals have become headline news.’
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