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Home plans winning ‘on appeal’

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More than two-thirds of major housing developments currently going to appeal are being approved, new figures have revealed

Statistics released by planning consultancy Turley show successful appeals at public inquiry have leapt by 50 per cent since the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012.

Comparing the number of applications made in the two years before the introduction of the NPPF with those two years after, the consultancy discovered that the approval rate at public inquiry had risen from 38 per cent to 57 per cent for appeals. The number of appeals upheld at inquiry for major housing developments – schemes with more than 10 homes – had also risen from 58 per cent to 67 per cent.

A spokesman for Turley said: ‘Our research suggests that the NPPF and the principles upon which it is based have not had the impact on local authority decision-making anticipated by the government.’

Robert Adam, director of Adam Architecture, said: ‘People are putting in applications knowing they are getting a refusal simply as a means of getting their proposal in front of an inspectorate.’

‘We are dealing with developers who are simply hiring researchers to find out which councils do not have a local plan and applying for a development, as the [threshold] for winning an appeal against these councils has become quite low,’ he adds.

He added: ‘Local authorities that have not got their local plans fixed are in trouble.’

Leigh Brooks, director of BWP Architects, agreed. He said: ‘We tell our clients never to withdraw an application for a development as, until a council refuses it, it isn’t in writing and so you cannot appeal against it. Even if a council tell us it is likely to refuse an application, we will still go ahead. ’

Ruth Reed, RIBA past president and chairwoman of the RIBA Planning Group, said the NPPF had placed a burden on local authorities that they cannot deliver on.

She said: ‘With only one in seven local authorities having an adopted local plan in accordance with the NPPF, there is a gap in local policy. Planning by appeal cannot be good for anyone.’

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