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Planning appeal time to be ‘cut by half’

Her report argues that only a small minority of appeals are sufficiently large or complex to require the kind of investigation that an inquiry represents but notes that they affect a disproportionately large number of housing units.

The Planning Inspectorate handles more 20,000 appeals each year. Last year, 315 schemes led to appeal inquiries, affecting more than 42,000 residential units

For inspector-decided cases, the inquiry process typically takes a year to complete from lodging the appeal to a decision. The report argues that this time could be reduced to five or six months, by making a "relatively small number of changes".

It notes: "Inspectors need to be appointed as soon as an appeal has been validated to inform how the inquiry can be managed and set dates and timelines."

It calls on the planning Inspectorate to become more proactive in managing the inquiry process and to be more insistent in imposing dates and deadlines. The report’s recommendations including creating an online portal for inquiry appeals, web-based document control, more active case management and a strategy for recruiting additional inspectors.

It argues: "The changes that will make a difference are straight-forward,but their implementation will require everyone to get behind them to make them possible."

James Brokenshire, communities secretary, welcomed the report as indicating a clear direction of travel. He said: "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."

Mr Brokenshire said that the government would now consider the recommendations before publishing a response in the coming months.

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. I’m pleased my report has been welcomed by the government and the Planning Inspectorate and look forward to seeing these changes being implemented."

Ms Rosewell, an economist, has extensive knowledge of the planning sector and has acted as an expert witness at planning inquiries. She is a commissioner for the National Infrastructure Commission and chair of Atom Bank.



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