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Written Representations Appeal

The ‘written representations’ procedure is the most common type of appeal process, the alternatives being appeals decided at a hearing or a public enquiry. Hearings and Public Enquiries give rise to significant additional costs for you as appellant and are rarely appropriate for individual home owners. The Householder Appeal service is a particular format of written representations procedure with the shortest duration.

If your appeal is not about a house, and as a result you cannot use the Householder Appeal process, then the most appropriate option for you is likely to be a non-householder written representations appeal, which we commonly refer to as a ‘full’ planning appeal.

Written representations are appropriate for the majority of planning appeals, the most common exceptions arising in cases where a lawful use is being contested by the Local Planning Authority. In practice, there is little option for you as applicant, because the Planning Inspectorate will decide to opt for the written representations method unless either the Council or you as appellant submit very sound justification explaining why a hearing is needed.

Therefore, examples where a ‘full’ written representations appeals process is commonly used might be in respect of planning refusals for changes of use, new residential development, shopfronts and advertisements, commercial development, and listed buildings.

In the case of a ‘full’ planning appeal you normally have the right to appeal within 6 months of the date of the decision notice from the Council, unlike the Householder Appeal process, which is only 12 weeks. There is no opportunity to present your case verbally and you can expect the duration of the appeal process to be at least 26 weeks, although the Planning Inspectorate, (PINS) continue to make efforts to monitor their performance and aim to reduce the ‘turn around’ time.

The process

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The process involves the submission of documents, from the Council, from you as the appellant, and from appropriate third parties. Ideally, most of your documentation should be submitted at the outset. We lodge appeals online whenever possible and we obtain proof of when the appeal has been lodged. The online lodgement of an appeal will generally therefore include the initial appeal documentation including your Grounds of Appeal setting out the key issues to be addressed.

Once your appeal is lodged the Planning Inspectorate process the appeal to a point where they confirm it is accepted as valid. This can take a few weeks when they have a high workload or the appeal has unusual characteristics.

Subsequent to lodgement of your appeal, the Council will be made aware and they should provide the Inspectorate with documentation from their files. This is ‘their side of the story’ and usually consists of copies of the policy they have used, but also third party representations received during the course of the application. They usually have to do this within 2 weeks of the “start date” of the appeal. The start date is determined by the Planning Inspectorate and is based on when they validate the appeal.

The Inspectorate have set out specific programmes for appeals about different types of planning decisions and guidance can be found via the Planning Portal. Following the Planning Inspectorate’s validity notice, there is a further period, usually 4 weeks, within which both parties (i.e. the appellant and the Council) must submit further information. In the case of the appellant, this will provide full details of the planning merits of the case to justify that planning permission should be granted. Third parties, (e.g. neighbours), are also entitled to submit representations in writing and this can be particularly helpful for your appeal.

Following the submission of these statements and representations to the Planning Inspectorate there is then a further opportunity to comment on the documents, and to rebut any adverse or incorrect comments that might have been made.

The Inspector will consider all the submitted information. He or she will undertake a site visit which is often an accompanied visit, therefore both a Council planner and the appellant may need to attend. Please note that there is no opportunity to present your case at this site visit – it is purely to enable the Inspector to view the site. In practice you, as appellant, can and should take this opportunity to draw attention to features of the site, (eg, screening formed by trees). We do not normally attend Inspector visits and we feel that the opportunity for you as appellant to be face-to-face with an Inspector can add credibility to your case.

A decision is normally made in writing a few weeks after the site visit.

How can Get Planning and Architecture help you?

Full Planning Appeals (written representations)

Our planning appeals service typically includes:

  • Accept the brief and review client requirements
  • Review refused application decision notice and officers report
  • Visit site to review the planning context
  • Prepare written representations appeal including a written statement
  • Refer to client with a draft for comment and approval
  • Lodge appeal with the Planning Inspectorate
  • Monitor appeal, submit further information as appropriate and report progress to client