The Planning Inspectorate greatly welcomes the findings of Bridget Rosewell CBE, Independent Review of Planning Appeal Inquiries.
We are encouraged by the practical, common sense nature of the recommendations which promise to lead not only to much faster decisions but also to radically improve the experience of customers. Crucial to this is the introduction of an overhauled appeal portal which we anticipate will be ready by the end of 2019.
To put us in the best possible place to achieve the ambitions of the report we are trialling the new approach on several Inquiries and are in the process of scaling up these operations. From the experience gained through the trial we have already made practical improvements and are continuously updating our approach. It is also giving us confidence in the forward planning for the remainder of the implementation phase. At the same time, it has underlined the size of the challenge and that there isn’t a quick fix. Rather a sizable transition period is likely to be needed – depending not only on the number of Inquiries coming forward over this year but also the level of demand from all other case work, local plan and nationally significant infrastructure project submissions. We are committed to improving our performance radically across all casework areas and delivering to challenging timescales.
We are proud to have already developed working versions of several good practice documents which we have published alongside this report. The key learning from producing these and our experience gathered through the pilot to date is that the suggested approach can also benefit other planning casework areas. It is therefore our intention to roll out this approach more widely over time. As Bridget has pointed out in her Review, for the reforms to have maximum effect all parties involved with planning Inquiries will need to adjust their approach. We hope that this Action Plan provides the clear direction and impetus in making this culture change come to life.