Report reveals increase in successful housing scheme appeals since NPPF

Out-Law News | 03 Jul 2014 | 4:17 pm | 1 min. read

A report by planning consultancy Turley has revealed an increase in the success rate for planning appeals since the introduction of the government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012, with a particularly marked increase in the success rate of residential development appeals determined at public inquiry.

Turley examined planning application and appeal statistics for the two year periods immediately before and after the introduction of the NPPF. The resulting report (22-page / 2.4 MB PDF) revealed a higher percentage of successful appeals following the introduction of the guidance and the emergence of differences in success rates depending on whether appeals were determined by written representations, by hearing or by public inquiry.

While success rates for appeals decided following written representations were broadly the same before and after the guidance was issued, success rates for those decided by hearing increased from 35% two years before to 42% two years after the NPPF came into force, the report said.

The report found "a dramatic impact" on the success rate of all appeals determined at public inquiry following the introduction of the guidance. "A 38% approval rate in the six-month period prior to the introduction of the NPPF has increased to 57% 24 months after the introduction of the guidance", said the report. "The rate of success at public inquiry has increased by 50% in that two year period."

For residential developments determined at inquiries, the increase was even more marked with 48% of all residential appeals and 58% of appeals for residential developments of ten or more homes successful two years before NPPF, and these figures rising to 60% and 67%, respectively, two years after NPPF.

The increased appeal success rate contrasted with findings in relation to planning application approvals. The rate of planning approvals by local authorities had remained broadly the same before and after the introduction of the guidance, with around 80% of planning applications receiving approval, the report found.

Turley explained the increase in appeal success as a result of the failure of local planning authorities (LPAs)to produce and adopt local plans in time, leaving their planning decisions open to challenge following the introduction of the NPPF.

"There is a reluctance for LPAs to confront the issue of 'objectively assessed housing needs' and a difficulty in dealing with the 'duty to co-operate'", said the report. "This has been translated into a relatively poor success rate in the adoption of local plans."

"It is clear that the NPFF has created a position whereby, until LPAs have plans in place, the default position is for applications to be policy compliant with the NPPF where sustainable", continued the report. "As a possible consequence, decisions referred upwards to the Planning Inspectorate and the secretary of state [for communities and local government] have tended to lead to approvals."