An independent review into planning appeals has concluded that the lengthy process could be reduced by up to 5 months. The review was authored by Bridget Rosewell CBE, who was appointed as Chair of the Independent Review into Planning Appeal Inquiries in June 2018.
At present the most contentious cases can take on average 47 weeks, and Ms Rosewell’s report suggests that this could be reduced to around 26 weeks, giving a far greater level of certainty to developers and local communities.
The report identifies several issues holding up the appeals process, including:
- Outdated administrative processes
- Poor IT infrastructure
- A lack of suitably qualified Inspectors
Commenting on the report, Ms Rosewell said:
“It’s critical that all parts of the planning system contribute towards the efficient delivery of the homes we need as well as the refusal of those which don’t meet our high standards.
“My review found, with commitment for all involved, that speeding up inquiries can be achieved through straightforward reforms, shaving months off the current time it takes for Inspectors to make a decision.
“I’m pleased my report has been welcomed by the Government and the Planning Inspectorate and look forward to seeing these changes being implemented.”
Secretary of State James Brokenshire said:
“Planning appeal inquiries have held up development and kept communities waiting in limbo – 47 weeks on average is far too long to wait for a decision on something so important as a proposal for new development.
“That’s why I welcome Bridget’s diligent work over the last 6 months, which has produced a fantastic report and provided us with a clear direction of travel on how we can ensure the appeals inquiry process is fit for purpose.
“Reducing the time it takes to secure crucial decisions ensures the delivery of more homes, in the right places, and will help us reach our ambition of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.”
Ms Rosewell’s report made 22 recommendations for speeding-up the process, which included:
- Committing the Planning Inspectorate to a new online portal for submitting inquiry appeals
- Recruiting additional Inspectors
- Minimising the number of cases which need to be decided directly by the Secretary of State
The Planning Inspectorate will now prepare an implementation plan setting out precisely how it intends to deliver these recommendations.