Most local authorities swayed by threat of appeals, survey suggests

EXCLUSIVE More than four in five planning committee members say that the financial implications of appeals can influence planning decisions in their local authority areas, according to survey findings seen exclusively by Planning.

Development: 17% of committee members say decisions never influenced by financial implications of appeals
Development: 17% of committee members say decisions never influenced by financial implications of appeals

The findings of communication consultancy PPS Group’s first annual Planning Committee Barometer show that only 17 per cent of planning committee members say that decisions within their local authorities are never influenced by the financial implications of appeals when deciding applications.

But more than four out of five of the 500 planning committee members who responded to PPS Group’s survey said that financial implications of appeals always or sometimes influenced decisions, or they "can make a difference".

Fewer than 15 per cent of the respondents to the survey said that the financial implications of appeals always influenced decisions within their local authority, while 38 per cent said that financial implications sometimes influenced decisions and 30 per cent said that they can make a difference.

The survey also found that fewer than one in ten planning committee members (8.8 per cent) say that officers in their local authority actively encourage meetings between developers and committee members. Nearly 18 per cent reported active discouragement, according to the survey.

Nearly half of respondents said that officers said that meetings could take place, but only with an officer present, while a quarter said that the matter was left to member discretion.

PPS Group director Andy Martin said: "We all have our suspicions about councillors’ attitudes towards development. What we weren’t expecting is the very strong steer from officers against any direct engagement - something that really has to change if we want to achieve local consents."

The survey also reveals that planning committee members see protecting the green belt as a higher priority for their area than creating more school places or dealing with crime and anti-social behaviour.

Nearly 30 per cent of respondents disagreed that green belt reviews are needed to ensure a sufficient supply of land for housing can be achieved, the survey found.

The survey also reveals that nearly half of committee members believe that the government’s aim of securing planning permission on 90 per cent of brownfield sites is not achievable within their district.


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