A planning refusal is not the end of the line
Only 20% of planning refusals are appealed, but we win a majority of the planning appeals we undertake
If you have been refused planning permission and you think that the council’s decision is unfair, you must consider submitting a planning appeal.
Council case officers work hard and do their best, but they don’t always get it right. They stick too closely to their planning policies and guidance, they don’t take account of what has been built nearby or they misunderstand what you have proposed. Sometimes they just make a mistake.
When you appeal, the decision is reviewed by an independent inspector. Appeals are decided centrally by the planning inspectorate, a government agency based in Bristol. The inspectors have no connection with your local council.
Planning appeals are free, straightforward and decided in just a few months. They are usually decided through written reports (you don’t have to appear in person) and our chartered planning consultants will manage the whole process for you, from start to finish.
While the national average is around a 40% success rate for planning appeals, our own is much higher and our fees are low. Complete the form below for free advice on your chances of a successful appeal.
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Fill in our form to receive our assessment on your chances of success.
You will also receive a personalised fixed-fee quote for the preparation, submission and management of your appeal.
If you prefer to email, we can be reached at email@example.com.
Frequently asked questions
Who decides planning appeals?
Planning appeals in England and Wales are decided by the Planning Inspectorate, a central government agency based in Bristol. The inspectorate is entirely separate from local councils. When you appeal, an independent inspector is appointed to consider your case and make a decision.
The Planning Inspectorate has published a guide to the planning appeal process – available here.
What kinds of appeals are there?
You can appeal against a refusal of planning permission, a refusal of an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness or an Enforcement Notice. You can also appeal if you have submitted an application and the council has not made a decision in time (usually within 8 weeks).
Finally, you can also appeal against conditions that have been attached to an approval of planning permission.
How much does it cost?
Planning appeals are free – they is no charge to the government (apart from for some enforcement appeals).
If you would like us to act on your behalf, we will take a look at your case, give you some free advice on your chances of success and give you a quote for preparing, submitting and managing your appeal. We charge fixed fees (no hourly rates or hidden extras) so you know precisely how much the whole process will cost you.
What is the appeal process?
Most appeals are decided through written representations, meaning that both sides submit written Appeal Statements and the inspector makes a decision based on those arguments.
The inspector will usually carry 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.
The appeal process is generally straight forward and stress free. Our consultants will handle all correspondence and there is little for you to do. You may need to provide access to the inspector for the site visit but can otherwise just await the decision.
What is the success rate?
Around 40% of appeals are successful. Our success rate is higher that that – we win a majority of the appeals we undertake.
40% might not seem like a high proportion, but it means that the planners are getting their refusals wrong almost half the time.
A lot of appeals are submitted without professional advice and without much chance of success. Some appeals are speculative and deserve to fail. A strong appeal for a sensible proposal, backed by a good Appeal Statement, stands a very good chance of success. We will not take on your appeal id we don’t think you can win.
How long does it take?
We aim to prepare a draft Appeal Statement for you to review within two weeks of getting your instructions.
The appeal itself will take several months to be decided. The inspector published up-to-date average timescales for appeals on its website here.
What is the time limit for appealing?
If your application was for extensions to a house, you have 12 weeks to appeal from the date you received the decision. For non-householder applications, you have 6 months in which to appeal.
There is no deadline for appealing Certificate of Lawfulness decisions.
If the council has not made a decision, you have six months to appeal from the date on which they should have made that decision.
There are strict deadlines for appealing Enforcement Notices – check our enforcement page for more details.
Is it better to resubmit my application before appealing?
You shouldn’t rush to appeal. You should only appeal when you submitted a strong application and the council has refused it without good reason.
When you receive your planning refusal, you should look closely at it to work out whether the council’s decision is fair. Contact our consultants for advice on whether we think the decision adds up.
If you think you can amend your design to resolve the issues raised in the council’s refusal, it makes sense to revise and resubmit your application.
However, if you think the council has got the decision wrong or you are not willing to make the changes the council wants, you should appeal.
Will appealing harm my relationship with the council?
No, the council and the planners will not treat you any differently because you have submitted an appeal. They don’t take it personally – appeals are a common part of the process.
Will my neighbours be notified?
When you submit an appeal, the council writes to neighbours in the same way they do for a normal planning application. For smaller, householder appeals (for extensions etc), neighbours have no right to comment on the appeal. For larger appeals, they are entitled to write in with their comments.
Will I have to appear in person or give evidence?
96% of all appeals are decided through ‘written representations’, where the decision is made based on written Appeal Statements only. There is no in person discussion of the case.
Some appeals go to a hearing or public inquiry – this is rare and usually only for larger, more complicated schemes.
Do I really need a planning consultant? Can I do this myself?
You can submit your own appeal, but it is not usually a good idea.
The skills of a planning consultant are valuable in working out how best to argue your case at appeal. All of our consultants are chartered town planners and all have worked in local council planning departments, making planning decisions. They know if, and how, a refusal of planning permission can be overturned.
If you wold like to submit your own appeal, check out Chapter 5 of Martin Gaine’s book, How to Get Planning Permission: An Insider’s Secrets, which guides you through the appeal process and explains how to write a good Appeal Statement.
Will you tell me honestly if I don't have a good chance at appeal?
We give honest advice on whether or not an appeal is likely to be successful in each individual case. We never take on appeals that we don’t think have at least a 60% chance of success and we advise hundreds of enquirers every year that an appeal is not a good idea in their particular case.
Can I appeal a refusal and resubmit the application at the same time?
Yes, that is a very common strategy. You can revise your plans (to make your extension smaller, for example) and resubmit your application to the council. At the same time, you can submit an appeal against the original refusal. The revised application should have no effect on the appeal, and vice versa.
Won't the appeal inspector just back up the council's decision?
Appeal inspectors are entirely independent of your local council and will reach their own decision. They are in no way biased towards the council or your neighbours or any other third parties.
They work for a central government agency, rather than local councils, and have a different perspective from case officers. They are less likely to be influenced by local politics and they pay close attention to the government’s national planning guidance, such as the need to built new homes and to allow existing homeowners to extend their homes.
Why do the planners get it wrong? Why do they refuse applications unfairly?
Councils refuse applications unfairly all the time. Around 40% of planning appeals are successful, suggesting that the planners get it wrong pretty often. Why is that?
One reason is that they are overworked and underpaid and usually decide applications on the very last day (of the usual 8 week deadline for decisions). This means that their assessment can be rushed and mistakes made.
Also, much planning decision making is subjective. The planner might not like some aspect of your design, but someone else might find it acceptable.
The planners are also inclined to follow their published guidance very closely – they don’t like making exceptions to their rules. If the guidance says that they won’t usually grant permission for a side extension (for example), they will automatically refuse even if a side extension is justified in your case (because it is hidden away from the streetcar your neighbour already has one, for example).
What happens if we lose?
If you appeal is dismissed (refused), do not despair. We will work through the inspector’s decision with you to work out what parts of your proposal they were happy were and what they disliked.
Sometimes, a refused appeal can still be a step forward towards an approval, perhaps through a revised planning application to the council.
Do you offer a 'no win, no fee' service?
No, we have a simple, fixed-fee charging structure. We ask that clients pay half of our fee upfront and the remainder when their appeal is ready to be submitted. It is transparent – you will know exactly what you have to pay.
Beware of ‘no win, no fee’ services – some companies submit poor quality appeals in a hope that they might, by some chance, be successful, and they can cash in a large fee. For them, it is a numbers game. Since no fee is paid upfront, they feel under no particular obligation to a do a good job.
Contact us now for help with your planning appeals.