Louise Greer Solicitor Law Society Quality Scheme member Helping you make the right move

Town & Country Planning Law, Appeals & Advice

Many people come in to contact with officers of their local authority for the first time as a result of involvement in some way with planning. Usually this comes about in one of two ways, either you decide to approach the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to seek permission to build/modify/extend an existing building or you may have already built/modified or extended your property without permission. In the latter case it is likely you have had a visit from the enforcement officer !

Planning Application

Making a planning application to your local planning department can seem to be a daunting task - unfortunately it is not always a satisfying experience and may differ wildly between authorities. The quality of the guidance and help you receive can lead directly to mistakes at all stages of an application leading directly to conflict - it is always a good idea to get things right from the outset to avoid unnecessary delay and expense at a later date. Depending on the nature of you proposal it is often wise to consult a planning professional (preferably a local one) at the outset as they will know the rules and moreover will be aware of any local "interpretation" and history of applications in your area. Finding a good planning professional is not easy, an architect may be able to produce plans that match your needs but that does not mean they are planning experts.

A visit from the Enforcement Officer

This usually means trouble of one sort or another. Often the visit is prompted by a member of the public reporting some building activity to the LPA - the usual suspects will be your neighbours but it could be anyone and the LPA will not reveal what has sparked their interest.

If your breach of the planning laws is considered to be minor you may be invited to submit an application for retrospective planning permission. This can be a trap for the unwary - by submitting an application (this will also involve payment of a fee) you are inviting the LPA to make a judgement and there is no guarantee that you will be successful. It is often wise to consult a planning professional at this point (i.e. before submitting a retrospective application) and before you reach the appeal stage (see below).

Planning Appeals

There are a number of reasons why an appeal is instigated; you can appeal for non determination - this is when an LPA takes too long to make a decision on your application; you can appeal against a refusal of planning permission or you can appeal against an enforcement notice.

There are three types of appeal process: Written Representation, Informal Hearing or a Public Inquiry.

We can advise on which type of appeal process you should adopt and the reasons why. Appeals generally take 3 months from lodging the appeal to receiving the final determination.

Planning permission is often refused by Local Planning Authorities with little regard to previous similar development within the locality or how an appeal can be defended.

We specialise in representing clients at appeal and we use our extensive planning experience, knowledge of local authority Local Plans and Planning Law to produce well structured and informative appeal statements. These statements are likely to significantly improve your chances of winning an appeal and therefore obtaining planning permission.

Once a planning application has been refused by a Local Planning Authority, the applicants have up to 12 weeks from the date of the decision (since 6th April 2009 - for further guidance see planning appeal guidance) to appeal the decision to the Planning Inspectorate, which is appointed by the Secretary of State. In the case of adverisement applications, appeals must be made within 8 weeks of the date of the decision. There are different timescales for "non householder" applications.

If you have been refused planning permission, do not hesitate to contact us with regard to appeal options and we will be happy to assess your chances of winning an appeal. Our first consultation and preliminary assessment is at no cost to yourself.

Louise Greer has over 30 years experience as a planning lawyer in both the private and public sector and consequently has extensive knowledge and experience of the subject matter having acted on "both sides of the fence".

It is our policy to give a professional opinion on your likely chances of a successful appeal. If we are of the view that an appeal would be unsuccessful we will tell you at the outset, it is in nobody's interest to carry out an appeal if we do not believe you will win, firstly it involves unnecessary expense and secondly our reputation is built on professionalism and success.