Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold anĀ MA in Planning and work as a Planning Consultant

Being told by the local planning authority (LPA) that your planning application has been refused is very frustrating, especially if the planning process has been a long and protracted one. However, there are still usually several means to try and secure approval. One of the most important tips is to remain calm and to try and keep your emotions under control. This is obviously easier said than done. However, the best way to plan a strategy on how to proceed is to approach the issue as logically as possible.

Planning Application Refusal
Planning application refusals can be stressful and frustrating, however its important to stay calm and create a logical strategy on how to proceed.

First, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why a planning application may be refused. I’ll then discuss the various options you can take to ultimately try and secure permission for your proposal.

Why might a Planning Application be Rejected?

There could be several reasons why a planning application is refused, or it could be one issue that is so significant it leads to refusal on its own. Decisions are either made by a planning officer (delegated decision) or by a local planning committee. In either case, there should be a report from the planning officer detailing the reasons for refusal. This report needs to be read thoroughly and the reasons for refusal fully explored.

The Planning Balance

Planning decisions are made based on the ‘material considerations’ present at that time. Materials considerations can include the following:

  • National Planning Policy (NPPF)
  • Local Planning Policy
  • Amenity Impact (loss of light/privacy on neighbours)
  • Impact on the Character/Landscape of the local area
  • Design considerations including material choices
  • Environmental or Ecological concerns
Planning Balance
The planning balance will give weight to the different material considerations to either tip the decision in favour of approval or refusal.

There are many different factors which can be considered a material consideration. Some will weigh in favour of a proposal, others may weight against a proposal. Each of the material considerations will be given weight in the planning balance. Some considerations are given significant weight, such as protection of the Green Belt for instance. Once all the material considerations have been weighed up, the balance will either tip in favour or refusal of the proposals.

However, it’s important to note that the weight given to material considerations is subjective. Therefore this is where the local authorities interpretations of planning policy can be challenged. It is possible in some cases to tip the planning balance from refusal to approval.

Planning Committee Decisions

When a planning officer makes a delegated decision, they also get support from the head of the planning department. A decision is made on the opinions on planning professionals. Delegated decisions are only refused if the LPA believe they can defend that decision if an appeal is made. However, when it comes to decisions made at the local planning committee, the process is different.

Planning Committee
Planning committee decisions do not have to follow the planning officers advice – Staffordshire Moorlands Planning Committee

First, a planning officer will prepare a report and provide their recommendation of either approval or refusal. They will then attend the planning committee and present their report. The planning committee is made up of local elected officials. The planning committee has no requirement to follow the advice of the planning officer. However, if the planning committee refuses a planning application they have to support their decision based on material planning considerations.

Personally, when I see a planning officer write a report recommending approval for an application which is later refused at the planning committee it draws my attention.

Resubmit or Appeal?

Once the material considerations and reasons for refusal are understood you normally have the option to either resubmit a revised application or submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to challenge the decision.

Resubmitting a Planning Application

You can actually submit a revision of the application to the LPA free of charge within 12 months of the decision. However, the application would need to be the first revision of the proposals and be of the same ‘character and description’. So for instance, the red outline on the location/site plan would need to remain the same and the general description of proposed works to be broadly similar. This free revised application applies to a determined and withdrawn application.

When to Resubmit an Application?

If you believe you can amend the design or materials of the proposals to still meet your own needs a resubmission may be the best means to proceed. The planning officers report should provide clues on how to change the design or materials.

Appealing a Planning Application

If after reviewing the officers report you feel that local or national planning policy has not been followed you could consider an appeal. Planning appeals are not made to the LPA, they are made to the Planning Inspectorate, also known as PINS. The Planning Inspectorate is an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Planning Inspectorate
The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) is based in Bristol at Temple Quay House and deal with all planning appeals

How long do you have to submit an Appeal?

This depends on the type of application or planning scenario involved, more details on time limits below:

The date from which time limits are based is the date stated on the decision notice for the application.

The Importance of Being Reasonable

It’s important to note that a planning appeal should be treated seriously and only submitted based on ‘reasonable’ grounds to challenge the decision. It’s not sufficient to challenge a refusal of planning permission on appeal just because you don’t like the decision. A reasoned argument has to be made in a Grounds of Appeal report on why the appellant (you) believes relevant material considerations should support approval of the proposal. PINS can actually award costs against either the appellant or local authority if they believe either side has acted unreasonably.

For instance, an appeal could include challenging how local and national planning policy was interpreted to make the decision. It can also include referencing other relevant local decisions and appeals as supporting evidence. Therefore, before any appeal is considered it’s wise to thoroughly research local decisions and appeals.

Planning Permission Search Tips
Before an appeal is submitted against a refusal of planning permission you need to take time to research other relevant applications and appeals.

It’s important to remember however, every application is judged on its own merits. Therefore an appeal decision in favour of one application does not necessarily mean it should lead to approval of a different application. However, decisions have to interpret policies consistently. Therefore other decisions and appeals can serve as a reference to how certain planning policies have been previously applied.

Conclusions on how to approach a Planning Application Refusal

First and foremost you need to have a good understanding of local and national planning policy. If that’s not the case then you should consider bringing on board a planning consultant such as my self to assist with your project. In terms of the process of how to deal with a planning application refusal I advise following the steps below:

  • 1. Thoroughly read the planning officers report and highlight the material considerations stated for refusal and the weight attributed to them (more or less than significant).
  • 2. If you believe you can amend the design/materials to address the reasons for refusal then consider resubmitting a free revised application within 12 months.
  • 3. Considered appealing the refusal of permission to the Planning Inspectorate if you believe you can demonstrate the planning balance was wrongly applied and relevant material considerations support approval.

For a planning appeal to succeed logical and reasoned arguments have to be presented in a concise and rational manner. Personal attacks and emotional rhetoric are not material considerations in planning decisions. If you have a planning application which has been refused and you need assistance to discuss your options please get in touch. We can discuss if the best way to proceed after the refusal is a resubmission or appeal.