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Challenging a planning or appeal decision

Who can challenge a planning decision or appeal

Anyone who made a representation on a planning application, and/or presented evidence during an appeal can challenge the eventual decision. This challenge can only be on the basis of legal, rather than planning grounds however.

In other words, you cannot simply object on the grounds that the decision-maker should have reached a different conclusion.

If you are considering a legal challenge, you should discuss the case with a specialist planning lawyer.

There are two routes to challenging a planning or appeal decision

Application to the High Court on a point of law

This application must be made within six weeks of the date of the decision letter.

It is a highly technical proceeding and can result in significant legal costs, although these will be recovered if you win.

If you lose, you usually have to pay the other parties' costs as well as your own. Legal aid is available for cases like this

Judicial review

An application of this kind must be lodged within three months. In this case, you must be able to show that the local authority made an irrational decision or that there was some procedural irregularity.

You will need lawyers, but legal aid is available.

A decision could be quashed if

  • The action taken is not within the powers of the Planning Acts (known as 'ultra vires')
  • Any of the relevant requirements on law have not been complied with, for example if notification didn't happen

If you are unable to challenge

If you cannot find grounds for a challenge, don't give up.

The development will not necessarily go ahead, even with planning permission.

There may well have been changes in circumstances since the application was first submitted.

The developers may have decided to pursue interests elsewhere, or the development as first proposed may no longer make commercial sense.

The very fact there there has been a strong, well-argued campaign against it may persuade the developer to think again.

Further reading

See CPRE's guide to challenging planning decisions in the courts, Plan B.