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Once a planning decision has been made only the applicant can appeal against that decision. Appeals of refusals of planning permission are heard and decided by a Planning Inspector. There is no third party right of appeal for other people who disagree with the local council’s decision.

Anyone can challenge a planning decision in the courts, however, if they have evidence that the planning decision was not made following the proper procedures. Legal challenges cannot take into account whether the decision was right or not in planning terms, only whether regulations and conventions about making decisions were properly followed. Challenging a planning decision in the courts is a difficult and costly process, and should not be undertaken without specialist legal advice.

If your local authority refuses to grant planning permission for a development, the person who submitted the application can appeal to a Planning Inspector. The Inspector, who is independent of the local authority and the applicant, will then look again at the case, and can either agree with or overturn the local council's decision.

The public can comment on planning appeals just like they can comment on planning applications, and there are tips you can follow to make sure that your comments are as relevant and effective as possible.

Some appeals, especially those dealing with bigger proposed developments, are heard by public inquiry. If you have been interested in the application since it was submitted to your local council, you may want to ask to speak at the inquiry to make sure that your comments are heard and taken into account.

Planning decisions can be challenged in the courts if there is evidence that the process by which the decision was made was unlawful. A court challenge can be very complex, lengthy and costly, however, and shouldn't be undertaken without legal advice. This section explains how court challenges can be made. For further information on this topic please read our guide, Plan B: How to challenge bad development in court.