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Major appeal delays as 'creaking' inspectorate faces reform crisis

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Architects are facing up to massive delays in planning appeals due to recent reforms to the planning system, the AJ has learned.

The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) is being overwhelmed with appeals following the government's decision to change the appeal rules governing 'non-determination'.

Figures produced by individual members of the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA) have shown that PINS is failing to hit targets for producing decisions in written and hearing appeals and inquiries by up to 50 per cent.

The crisis is set against reforms that see a reduction in the period of time allowed to take schemes to appeal for non-determination from six months to three. As a result, developers and their architects are rushing to appeal decisions.

PINS has indicated that it is is incapable of meeting its targets because it has failed to recruit the inspectors it now needs.

The chair of the ACA's planning group, Andy Rogers, told the AJ that the planning inspectorate is 'creaking' because of the changes. 'This is a real problem and I can't see how it is going to be solved, ' he said. 'PINS simply has not recruited enough inspectors to deal with the problem.

'This is of the government's making, though.

There was no real reason for changing the rules, ' Rogers added.

And Brian Waters, chairman of the London Planning and Development Forum, agrees that PINS was completely unprepared for the rush in applications. 'I asked PINS about this some time ago and it said that it expected a small blip when the new government rules came in, ' he said. 'But it said it would soon settle down.

'This clearly has not happened and it is well behind schedule. It now says that it warned the government that this would happen, but that is not what it said at the time of the rule changes, 'Waters added.

In its last official statement on the issue at the end of last year, PINS said it was expecting to face an increase in workload but predicted it would certainly handle the jump.

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