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Domestic planning appeals taking longer

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Some categories of planning appeal took twice as long to process in the first three months of 2015 than they did in the previous quarter, official statistics show

Data published by the Department for Communities and Local Government reveals that the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) took more than twice as much time to decide householder appeals comparing the two periods. Householder appeals cover development related to existing homes, such as extensions or new buildings within the footprint of a property’s grounds.

Provisional figures contained in the inspectorate’s report to ministers show that these appeals took an average of 16 weeks to deal with, compared with just seven weeks in the previous quarter. Appeals relating to commercial schemes took an average of 19 weeks, compared with 11 weeks in the final three months of 2014.

Both figures related to appeals dealt with in writing. The time taken to decide appeals through hearings or inquiries was unchanged between the two quarters, with hearings taking an average of 20 weeks and inquiries taking 35 weeks.

A PINS spokesman said the service was aware it needed to improve its performance and was looking to hire more inspectors.

‘The time taken to process and decide appeals is not currently meeting our customers’ expectations,’ he said.

‘We have taken measures to rectify this by moving additional resources to deal with appeal casework, recruiting more Inspectors - 50 new inspectors have joined PINS this year and a further recruitment exercise is currently underway - and looking closely at our processes to ensure we make the appeal process as efficient as possible.

‘We are already seeing an improvement in processing times and continue to focus on improving performance.’

The figures showed that 41 per cent of householder appeals were allowed in the last quarter of 2014-15, unchanged from the previous quarter. However there was a drop in the proportion of commercial appeals that succeeded in overturning council planning decisions, with the figure down from 29 per cent to 12 per cent.

The proportion of appeals allowed following hearings and inquiries remained broadly unchanged, at 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

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