DCLG proposes dedicated commercial appeals service

Plans to create a new dedicated service to speed small-scale commercial developments through the appeals system are included in a government consultation on proposals to make the appeals process faster and more transparent.

Shop front: consultation says appeals on changes to shop fronts could benefit from new approach
Shop front: consultation says appeals on changes to shop fronts could benefit from new approach
The consultation document, published yesterday by the Department for Communities and Local Government, proposes to establish a "Commercial Appeals Service" so that "some appeals on minor commercial developments follow a shorter process with a minimum of documentation".

The document says that the proposed service – an "expedited form of the written representations procedure" - would "offer a faster commercial planning appeal procedure for less complex appeals, enabling the Planning Inspectorate to make a decision in eight weeks".

The consultation says that the types of appeal to benefit from the service could include advertising consent appeals, appeals on changes to shop fronts and "change of use and other minor development that relates to straightforward proposals of under 1,000 square metres".

Under the proposal, there would only be 12 weeks in which to appeal, rather than the usual six months.

According to the consultation, the introduction of a Householder Appeals Service in 2009 has been successful in reducing the time taken to determine less complex small-scale cases to, in most cases, eight weeks.

The consultation document says that the Householder Appeals Service "provides an expedited written representations procedure for some 35 per cent of planning appeals and has proved popular with appellants and local planning authorities alike".

The consultation also proposes tighter guidelines for Planning Inspectorate timetabling.

It proposes changes to better deliver the target that the appeal event should be held within 12 weeks for a hearing and 20 weeks for inquiries.

The consultation proposes to shorten the time between the start of the appeal and the appeal event by amending secondary legislation to "set the expectation that an inquiry determined by an inspector should be held not later than 16 weeks (and for hearings not later than 10 weeks) after the starting date".

The document also sets out plans to ensure the earlier submission and notification of appeal statements so that interested parties can see information earlier and can comment and proposes to bring discussion on common ground issues "to the forefront of the appeals process".

It says: "To achieve this we will amend the rules to the Development Management Procedure Order and the Inquiry Rules to require the appellant to table a first draft of a document containing the factual background to the case at the time they make the appeal."

Technical review of planning appeal procedures is available here.

jamie.carpenter@haymarket.com

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