UK: Development Management Procedure Amendments: "A Faster Appeals Process"

Summary and implications

The Government announced on 3 September through a ministerial statement by Nick Boles MP that it had introduced orders to make the appeal process faster "whilst ensuring the process remains fair". A set of new orders amending the established rules for Development Management Procedure and all forms of appeal were laid before Parliament on the same day. The principal effect of these is to shorten many of the key timescales the various modes of appeal have been working to.

The changes will be of interest to landowners, developers and LPAs alike, because, it is hoped, this new change will provide quicker appeal decisions allowing development to begin sooner. The price of this is to introduce an added burden to taking part in the appeal process; not only do appellants need to come to appeals with cases fully stated but LPAs need to be in a position to respond to them sooner. 


It has been a common theme within the Coalition Government through both DCLG announcements and various Budgets that the planning system is "holding up" the development industry and, in turn, the economy. This represents a further step in the Government's aim to speed up the system.

What impact will the changes have?

The changes amend the Development Management Procedure Order and the various appeal procedure rules.

Key features are as follows:

  • Appellants will be required to submit (full) Statements of Case, and in the case of hearings and inquiries, a draft Statement of Common Ground at the submission of the appeal.
  • Where documents are referred to they must be copied to all parties at this early stage and not simply listed in the Statement of Case.
  • The Statement of Common Ground shall be submitted within five weeks of the start date and the time limit is reduced for the LPA to supply its (full) Statement of Case and notify third parties of the appeal from six weeks to five.
  • Inquiries shall be heard within 16 weeks and hearings within 10, unless (as before) the Secretary of State considers such date impracticable.
  • The expedited process known as the "householder appeal route" is applied to advertisement consent appeals and a new category of "minor commercial" appeals. A list of the specific use classes which are within the "minor commercial appeals" category is in the schedule to the Order but in broad terms these are general high street uses.
  • The written representations procedure as it remains is shortened by providing only a week for the LPA to complete its questionnaire and notify relevant interested parties, and giving five weeks (not six) for comments to be made and seven weeks (not nine) for the appellant and the LPA to comment on each other's statements.

For inquiries the aim is to bring forward the role and nature of public participation so that the public and the LPA will be in full possession of the appellant's statement of case at the outset, not after six weeks as previously. The regulations are unclear as to what is meant by the insertion of the word "full" into statement of case, though it is clear that where documents are referred to they are now to be provided in full at the outset. It remains to be seen whether this will see the end of Statement of Cases which reserve their position until evidence is exchanged.

Also the extent to which the bringing forward of the agreement of the Statement of Common Ground will assist the parties to the inquiry or the inquiry itself, will inform members of the public to a greater degree, or will simply result in Statements which omit information on key points in dispute remains to be seen. In bespoke inquiry timetables agreed recently the exchange of the Statement of Common Ground has been moved later in the timetable to relate to a key point in the appeal programme (i.e. two weeks before the pre-inquiry meeting or exchange of proofs), something which has generally assisted the process.

The shortened timescales must be viewed as admirable targets but it is unclear whether the resources are in place to meet these added requirements within all parties.

Other related amendments

At the same time the Government have (through the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013) introduced provisions whereby an LPA in respect of an application which is undetermined 26 weeks following validation shall refund any fee paid. This does not apply if the LPA and the applicant have agreed to an extension (in writing) or if the application is subject to appeal before the 26 weeks has expired.

Might this proposal lead to a delay in appeals being submitted following expiry of the determination period in the hope of a refund? It should also focus the minds of LPAs where applications have been delayed due to non-departmental delays/input or the progression of a section 106 agreement.

The Regulations came into force on 1 October 2013.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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