Appeals Face Increasingly Long Wait Times
In March 2018 the Planning Inspectorate (PINs) announced new timescales for appeals. Written Representations will wait 24 weeks, Hearings will take 36 week and inquiries will take 49 weeks until a decision is released. These waiting times are in addition to the delays before an appeal officially starts, as identified by the chair of the RTPI’s independent consultant network, which are due in part to the lack of any requirement for PINs to commit to an appeal start date instead being based on when resources are available.
PINs handles more than 22,000 appeals each year, and unfortunately during 2017/18, PINS was unable to recruit the required number of inspectors. These problems are exacerbated by the requirement for Inspectors to have around three to five years to gain the necessary skills and experience which goes someway to explain the current looming delays. In addition, Central Government is requiring PINs to make £6 million worth of cuts within the next four years. This has culminated in a smaller number of Inspectors handling all local plan examinations, national infrastructure casework, enforcement and specialist appeals.
Delays in timescales and increased number of postponements have led to rising costs for clients as consultants are forced to repeat or revise submissions due to the change in circumstances between submitting an appeal and actually being heard.
In conjunction with the above, it has been revealed that the Secretary of State is missing the three month deadline to decide on called-in applications or recovered appeals. In 2017/18 there were 69 such decisions and a decision was made within three months on just five occasions, adding further time delays and costs on to applicants.