New PINS appeal portal set for June 2020 launch

The planned new digital portal for the administration of planning appeals is set for launch in June next year, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) has revealed.

The Planning Inspectorate's head office in Bristol
The Planning Inspectorate's head office in Bristol

The proposal to create a new digital portal to handle appeal cases was among a number of recommendations made by a government review of planning appeal inquiries chaired by Bridget Roswell

In an update on progress towards meeting the review’s recommendations, PINS last week said that testing of the new digital portal is currently being carried out with 27 planning authorities in East Sussex, West Sussex and Kent.

The update said: "With live testing of the new digital service underway, PINS is optimistic that the planning appeal inquiries portal will become ready to use for all inquiry appeals by June 2020."

The new portal would allow the uploading of all inquiry documents and would update all parties throughout the process.

In its update, PINS said that it has successfully delivered over half of Rosewell’s 22 recommendations.

It said that a new requirement for all inquiries to start within 13 to 16 weeks of the start letter has led to prompt decisions, with - of the 15 inquiries started since the requirement was introduced in March - 14 cases being decided in 24 weeks and one within 26 weeks.

Rosewell's report recommended that PINS should adopt a 24-week end-to-end timescale target for appeal inquiry decisions. Rosewell said that the average time to decide a planning appeal inquiry "could be slashed from an average of 47 weeks to around 26 weeks". 

Last week's update added: "Since introducing the new timeline, we have seen a gradual decline in requests to change a date set for an inquiry."

It said that setting an early "event date" up to 14 weeks from the issuing of a start letter is "the single most important factor in achieving the faster end-to-end decision times and gives certainty and predictability to all parties". 

An "event" is defined as a site visit, hearing or inquiry start date.

In September, a spike in appeal decisions was attributed PINS to recruitment of more staff, but observers suggest it could also reflect a rise in the number of cases submitted.

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