How the government decides

Should the application be called in or not?

The policy of the Secretary of State is to be very selective about calling in planning applications and generally only does so only if planning issues of more than local importance are involved.

For example, if the application could

  • Raise significant architectural and urban design issues
  • Have wide effects beyond the immediate locality
  • Give rise to substantial national or regional controversy
  • Conflict with national policy on important matters
  • Involve the interests of foreign governments

You can read more about this on DCLG website.

In addition, the Government will sometimes call in applications that the local authority has turned down and applicant has appealed against.

In effect this means that the decision is made by the Secretary of State in person rather than by an inspector appointed by him.

This is known as 'recovery' of a planning appeal.

In 2005, some 150 appeals out of 25,000 in total were recovered in this way.

If an application is called in or an appeal recovered, in most cases there will be a public inquiry.

The Secretary of State will, in general, only consider the use of his call-in powers if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Such cases may include, for example, those which in his opinion: 

  • may conflict with national policies on important matters;
  • may have significant long-term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single local authority;
  • could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality;
  • give rise to substantial cross-boundary or national controversy;
  • raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or
  • may involve the interests of national security or of foreign Governments.

However, each case will continue to be considered on its individual merits.