If the local planning authority (LPA) refuses your planning application, it can seem like a lot of time and money wasted—and a dead end for your project. But while most applicants walk away at this point, the statistics show that you shouldn’t necessarily be one of them.

Everyone can appeal a refusal

The ability to lodge an appeal against a planning refusal is open to every applicant as long as it is made within 6 months of the original decision, or 3 months for a householder appeal.

The process of appealing is not always a straightforward one (see below), and should always be preceded by at least a chat with someone at your LPA to see if perhaps changing your plans might make a difference (we also encourage this prior to the application to avoid such issues). In some cases, a modified application can simply be resubmitted within a year of the initial planning refusal and, if changed in accordance with the LPA’s guidance, is likely to be successful.

However, if this approach doesn’t work and/or if you feel the refusal is unreasonable—or if the LPA has taken longer than the required 8 or 13 weeks to issue the decision (unless a longer time frame has been previously agreed)—then you can appeal to the Secretary of State.

Why some applicants don’t bother with an appeal

Appeals are often seen as a last resort and not a welcome one at that. They can be time-consuming for all parties and take months to reach a decision: between 19 to 39 weeks on average, and longer when there are additional delays in handling appeals.

There is also no guarantee that an appeal will be successful. It depends on the applicant being able to make a solid case for their application, as well as the reasons for the refusal in the first place.

Each decision will have been based on a unique planning application. It will have taken into consideration a specific site, the quality of the application that’s been put together, and a range of related factors to do with the proposed development. Some planning applications will have been more contentious than others and were an ‘easy refusal’, while others might have only just failed to pass muster. Yet those applicants without the benefit of an expert eye often won’t know which category they fall into—and therefore whether an appeal is worth it.

Those who appeal have a good chance of success

According to the Planning Inspectorate, approximately only 20% of refused planning applications will appeal the decision.

And yet, statistics from last year (2016) for residential developments show a surprisingly positive success rate for those who do appeal:

  • 853 Major Planning Application appeals submitted (10+ residential units), with a 42% success rate;
  • 5989 Minor planning Application Appeals submitted (1-9 residential units), with a 27.25% success rate; and
  • 5211 Householder Appeals submitted (house extensions), with a 39.25% success rate.

Taken as a whole, that means slightly over 36% (or 1 in 3) of all planning appeals are actually successful. A rate of success which should certainly give hope to applicants looking to overturn a planning refusal.

If you want to appeal

You can start the process online if you want to appeal a planning refusal. However, we strongly recommend you have all the evidence you need to make your case before you begin, in order to avoid wasting more time and money—and give yourself the best chance of success.