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Planning and Development

Challenging a Planning Decision


If a planning application for your land or property has been refused or you are aggrieved by the grant of planning permission by a local planning authority for a development which will affect your interests, there are a number of options available to you to challenge or appeal the decision made.  

Depending on your particular circumstances there are two main options available when seeking to challenge a planning decision or determination by a local planning authority.  These options are, firstly, the submission of a planning appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and/or secondly, a judicial review of the decision made through the courts.

Planning Appeals

A planning appeal is a mechanism by which an applicant can challenge the decision or determination of the local planning authority in respect of an application for planning permission.

  • Who can appeal?  

Only the person who made the planning application has the right to appeal.

  • When is the right of appeal available?  

By way of general summary, the right to appeal is available where the local planning authority has refused an application for planning permission or granted it subject to conditions that the applicant considers unacceptable, or has failed to issue a decision within the prescribed timeframe.

  • When does the appeal need to be submitted?  

An application needs to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate within a period of six months of the date of the decision or determination giving rise to the appeal, or within six months of the date by which the local planning authority should have determined the application (for appeals against non-determination).

  • How should the appeal be made?  

The application to appeal must be made in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State and be accompanied by the following documents: a copy of the planning application; all plans, drawings and documents relating to the application; all correspondence with the local planning authority; a copy of the decision or determination (if any); a full statement of the case including a statement setting out the procedure the applicant considers should be used to determine the appeal; and, where applicable, a draft statement of common ground. 

  • What other factors do I need to consider?  

Launching an appeal can be a lengthy and costly process and we would always recommend that the planning application is reviewed by the applicant and their advisers in the first instance to establish whether the proposed development can be amended or further information can be provided in the form of a revised planning application to overcome the concerns raised in the reason for refusal. 

Judicial Review

Judicial review is the procedure by which decisions of public bodies are examined by the courts to ensure that they have been made lawfully and fairly.

  • Who can apply for judicial review?  

Anyone with sufficient interest in the matter to which the application relates may apply for permission to judicially review a decision of a public body, including, for example, third-party interest or action groups opposed to large-scale developments (provided there are justifiable grounds to do so).

  • On what grounds can an application be made?  

An application to judicially review a decision of a local planning authority may be made on a number of specific grounds. These include grounds that the local planning authority has misdirected itself in law, exercised its power wrongly or did not have the power to determine the application in the way that it has. Challenge can also be on the grounds that the decision reached was irrational, including that the local planning authority took into account irrelevant matters or failed to consider relevant matters in reaching the decision made. In addition, if it can be argued that the local planning authority has not properly observed relevant statutory procedures or principles of natural justice in reaching the decision that they have, such a decision can be challenged. Finally, if there was a legitimate expectation that the local planning authority, by its own statements or conduct, would act in a certain way but they have failed to do so, an applicant can seek to challenge such an approach.

  • When does the application need to be made by?  

An application for permission to judicially review a decision of a local planning authority must be made no later than six weeks from the date of the issue of the decision. If permission is granted, the claim would proceed to the substantive stage and a full hearing. 

  • What other factors do I need to consider?  

It is important to consider whether a judicial review is the most appropriate route to challenge the decision, taking into account the individual circumstances of the case. Typically, the successful outcome of a judicial review made by an aggrieved party would be the grant of a quashing order, together with a mandatory order directing the local planning authority to determine the decision again in accordance with the court's judgment.  A judicial review will not result in the automatic grant of planning permission where it has been previously refused and is not a mechanism for re-opening the planning merits of an application for planning permission. In such circumstances, a planning appeal would be most appropriate. As with planning appeals, a judicial review can be a costly process and we recommend that specialist advice is sought in a timely manner if you are considering making a claim.

Get in touch with our commercial property planning solicitors

For further information about our commercial property planning services, get in touch with our team in AlconburyBirminghamNottinghamPeterborough or Spalding.