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Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat: The Art of Appeals and How To Win Them

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

As heritage consultants, we often experience rejection. Even the most comprehensive and thorough planning application can be met with a refusal by the local authority. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that when this does happen there are several options available moving forward. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the appeal process, explore the different options available, and explain how professional support by heritage consultants such as ourselves can streamline the journey towards a successful outcome.


Why has my planning application been rejected?


There are several reasons why a planning application may be refused. Very often, planning permission refusal happens where the proposal cannot be supported in principle by the council, public bodies, or national amenity societies. The development may not be of an appropriate scale and mass, design and form, or the application itself may lack supporting information such as a heritage statement. Many of these issues can be resolved prior to the submission of the planning application, either by revising your design or withdrawing the application entirely, and this is why it’s important to seek advice about each stage of the application with your chosen heritage consultant.


Where councils do refuse planning applications, they must give written reasons for their decision, outlining their justifications and providing advice on the next steps. If you consider this decision to be unfair, or the decision has not been reached within the specified timeframe, you may file an appeal to the Secretary of State. However, this should always be treated as a last resort. The deadline for submitting an appeal is 12 weeks after the date of the decision notice and if you miss this window, you will lose your right to appeal the decision.

What are the next steps?


Whilst receiving a rejection can be both disappointing and frustrating, especially when you’ve dedicated so much time, money, and resources to producing the application, it’s not the be all and end all. There are several avenues that you can pursue to secure planning permission the second time around.


The first option involves submitting a revised scheme. In certain circumstances, this approach can be advisable and may increase your chances of obtaining approval. By revisiting your application and addressing the concerns raised by the Local Authority as well as those who have submitted letters of objection to your application, you can demonstrate your commitment to finding a mutually beneficial solution. Assessing whether a revised scheme is the right path for you is crucial, and our experts can help evaluate your case before making any decisions.


If this doesn’t seem like the right option for you, you can of course go straight to appeal. There are 3 ways in which an appeal can be heard:


1. A written representation

2. An informal hearing

3. A public enquiry.


For small, residential developments, a written representation is the most common form of appeal. If you chose this route, you will be required to produce a structured, written statement, outlining the reasons why you consider the refusal to be unfair, and why permission should be granted. It is best to focus on the key planning issues, and to provide as much detail as possible. At any given point, the Local Authority may provide a statement in response, which allows you to prepare a rebuttal. Producing either of these statements can be challenging and as such, it can help to employ the help of a professional heritage consultant such as ourselves who possess expert knowledge of the process as well as the relevant legislation and planning policies at a local, regional and national level. We will take your case into our hands, confidently scrutinising the officer’s decision notice and any other correspondence, spotting the weaknesses in their argument, and working out how the strengths in your application can be highlighted.


In addition to the production of our statement, it will be necessary for an independent planning inspector to visit the relevant property and its surroundings to undertake an assessment of the works to be completed. It is not always necessary for you to be present at this inspection, and the inspector may be happy to undertake the visit unaccompanied. However, it can be beneficial to have your heritage consultant attend the inspection to answer any questions that the inspector may have, or provide clarification on aspects of the application where necessary.


Following the visit, the inspector will notify you of their decision. This can take between two to six weeks to come through, meaning that from start to finish, the process of filing an appeal can take about five months. It is important to read the letter carefully, if the planning inspector accepts your appeal, planning permission will be granted. If your appeal is dismissed, the reasons provided can help you decide whether you would like to submit a new application in future. Unlike a planning application, there is no government fee if you go down the appeal route. Whilst this option could be costly, if you do decide to seek the advice of a heritage consultant, if the appeal is successful, and the council’s initial refusal is overturned, you might consider it money well spent.

How can Blue Willow help?


At Blue Willow Heritage we have a strong track record in working with clients and local authorities to get planning application decisions overturned, creating a situation where all parties can be satisfied with the result. Whatever the project, big or small, our team of friendly and qualified heritage professionals are well placed to assist you with your appeal. So why not get in touch today to discuss our range of services, including our capacity to take on entire appeals or support you by providing standalone heritage advice.

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