The ‘Withdrawal’ Method

Should I withdraw my planning application?

One of the most common questions Just Planning consultants are asked by clients is, ‘should I withdraw my planning application’.

It usually follows a conversation with a council planning officer who has indicated that an application is unlikely to be successful and that the applicant should consider withdrawing it, amending it and resubmitting it.

A particular bone of contention is that this request often comes just before the end of the 8 week period in which the council is targeted to make a decision. Councils have a ‘duty to co-operate’ and should always work with applicants to amend and improve their applications, where possible. In practice, overworked case officers first look at an application when the 8 week period is about to expire and no longer have time for even simple amendments that might make an application acceptable.

So why do they suggest withdrawing the application? In most cases, just because writing up their report and preparing a decision notice takes precious time and effort, while a withdrawal is quick and easy.

There are also a couple of big advantages to the Council in seeing applications withdrawn. The first is that refusal rates are monitored nationwide. In principle, councils with clear policies, good pre-application advice services and helpful, pro-active case officers should not issue many refusals. More refused applications suggests that councils are not communicating well with their residents. In fact, 90% of applications nationwide are approved every year.

The second big advantage to the council (and huge disadvantage to the applicant) is that, if the application is voluntarily withdrawn by the applicant, there is no right of appeal. If a planning officer sees minor problems with a scheme (perhaps problems that might be corrected if the 8 week deadline was not looming), there is a risk that a refusal may lead to an appeal, and an embarrassing defeat for the council, including the risk of being required to cover the applicabt’s appeal costs.


So should I ever withdraw?

One can never say never. Sometimes it is better to maintain a good working relationship with your case officer. In most cases though, inform the planner that you will accept a refusal.

That forces the planner to think carefully about exactly what deficiencies the scheme may have, to write a detailed report and to put together defendable reasons for refusal.

Sometimes, you may call their bluff and a grant of planning permission will arrive in the post. If you do receive a refusal, you will know exactly what the council was concerned about and can consider a resubmission or an appeal.

On both counts, Just Planning can help. Contact our friendly planning consultants at any stage of the process for free, impartial advice.



Planning is a minefield. Arm yourself with the knowledge to maximise your chances of getting the planning permission you want by checking out Martin Gaine’s bestseller book, ‘How to Get Planning Permission – An Insider’s Secrets‘.