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Planning by appeal balloons

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An unprecedented 55% of housing schemes rejected at local level were passed by the inspectorate, an effect of the government’s growth agenda

Figures released this week confirm a return to ‘planning by appeal’ and show a significant increase in success for housing schemes in England rejected at local level.

The Planning Inspectorate decided appeals for more than 6,900 homes between July to September this year and allowed 55 per cent of them, representing a 16 per cent rise in approvals for residential schemes from just 39 per cent from April to June.

The success rate of appeals across all sectors decided by hearing also shot up from 38 per cent in the first quarter of 2011-2012 to 47 per cent during the last three months.

The hike is being seen as evidence that the government’s pro-growth stance and the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is already having an effect.

Jonathan Brown of Urbed said the results highlighted tensions with Localism: ‘This statistical snapshot raises questions as to whether the draft NPPF, and the chief planner’s note to inspectors, have encouraged frustrated applicants to appeal with an enhanced chance of success.

‘This is precisely the intent of the NPPF, and, if confirmed, can be seen as an interim policy victory for the Treasury’s “growth view”, well before the final framework is published in spring.’

Others believe the rise could be due to housebuilders trying to push residential developments through before the Localism Act kicks in.

Geoff Armstrong, partner of planning solicitors DPP said: ‘The rise is planning by appeal is an inevitable consequence of the uncertainty linked to the NPPF and Localism Bill, which give no guarantee of planning through committee.’

However, ACA spokesman and planning consultant Andrews Rogers had a more pragmatic view: ‘The rise in appeals relating to dwellings simply follows the trend for more appeals due to the collapsing system.’

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