What is a planning appeal?

Updated: May 2

The householder planning appeal system is not too complicated. In this post, I take you through the basics.

Is it worth appealing?

Only 20% of planning refusals are appealed. That's a lot of people giving up on their dream extension.

Obviously, the council doesn't get it wrong all the time. But they don't always get it right, either. I was a case officer in a London council for 6 years and I knew that many of my decisions could be challenged, though few were.

Sometimes the case officer sticks to guidance that should be applied fairly flexibly. Sometimes they come under pressure from superiors, councillors or neighbours. Sometimes they take against an applicant or they have a personal dislike for a particular. Sometimes they are just tired and overworked, and make a reasonable mistake.

Whatever the reason, you shouldn't take the decision at face value. Challenge it. Always consider an appeal. If you would like an independent review of the case officer's assessment, try our independent and objective £99 case review. If you are determined to appeal, and your proposal is not overly complicated, our chartered planners can appeal on your behalf for a single, fixed fee of £399.

Tell me more about planning appeals

Planning appeals in England and Wales are decided by government inspectors working for the Planning Inspectorate (also known as PINS), an agency based in Bristol. If you appeal a refusal, the decision is taken out of the hands of your local council and made again by an independent inspector. It is important to note that appeal inspectors are entirely objective and are not connected in any way with your local council.

What is the success rate?

38% of householder appeals were successful in 2019 (excluding cases where no decision was made). This is a high proportion, in fact, given that all of those proposals were first assessed by a qualified and professional case officer (one assumes) and found to be unacceptable. It is not a good sign that the gatekeepers of our planning system get it wrong almost half the time. To some, 40% seems like small proportion. However, I tell clients not to focus on the headline figure. It is depressed by hopeless appeals submitted by delusional applicants without professional advice or support. Some schemes deserve to fail. In my experience, if you appeal is well conceived, you are likely to win. Like the submission of a planning application, there is little point in speculative appeals. The secret to a successful appeal is being right – reasonable proposals that comply with planning policies will (usually) be approved.

Types of appeals focuses on householder appeals - i.e. appeals relating to extensions and alterations to a single family house. However, you can appeals refusals of full planning permission, certificate of lawfulness (relating to permitted development rights,for example) and against enforcement notices.

One can also appeal against a failure of the council to validate an application, if the council has not made a decision in the usual target timeframes (8 weeks for most smaller applications) and to challenge planning conditions attached to a grant of planning permission

How to appeal

Appeals for householder planning applications must normally be submitted with 12 weeks of the council’s decision (a longer period of 6 months is allowed for some applications, including all alterations to flats – ask your consultant if you are not sure). Appeals against enforcement notices must be submitted before the Notice takes effect (usually around 28 days from when it was served). If you are refused planning permission and an enforcement notice is served, you have just 28 days to appeal.

The easiest way to appeal is to submit it online, on the planning inspectorate's website ( You will need a copy of the application form submitted to the council with your original application, as well as the council's decision notice.

Submitting the appeal is fairly straightforward, but you may prefer to have the services of a planning consultant, with experience of appeal submissions.

How are appeals decided?

Most appeals are determined through the written representations procedure – through written arguments put forward by both sides (and neighbours and other third parties, where appropriate). The inspector reviews all written evidence, assesses the application originally submitted to the council and (usually) carries out a brief site visit. The site visit is purely for the inspector to see the site and is not an opportunity for either side to make its case.

If you have a planning consultant, they will handle all correspondence with you and there is little for you, as the client, to do. You may need to provide access to the inspector for the brief site visit, but can otherwise just await the decision.

Some appeals involve a formal hearing or public inquiry. These are usually for largely or more complicated appeals where it is difficult for the issues to be fully explored in writing and oral evidence should be heard. It is very rare to have a hearing or public inquiry for a householder scheme.

Smaller householder appeals take around 3 months to be decided (though timeframes vary). Non-householder appeals take around 6 months. Enforcement appeals take around 9 months. PINS (the planning inspectorate) posts current average times on its website ( Appeals are made online and there is no charge for submitting an appeal (apart from enforcement appeals, under some circumstances).

Where can I find more information?

Check out the government's guidance at:


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