Follow Us on Twitter

English Planning Policy and Practice - Making Decisions

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Article Index
English Planning Policy and Practice
Development Plans
National Planning Policy in England
Types of Application
Making Decisions
Material Considerations
Areas subject to particular designation
Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
Minimum Distances and Moratoria
Human Rights Act
European Union Law
All Pages

Making Decisions - Local Planning Authorities and Appeals

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 provides that decisions should be made in accordance with the development plan save where material considerations indicate otherwise.

This is reinforced in The Planning System: General Principles at paragraph 7, which states that "The statutory Development Plan will continue to be the starting point in the consideration of planning applications for the development or use of land, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Development Plan therefore provides the essential framework for planning decisions. When conflicts between Plan policies arise, decisions should be taken in the light of all material considerations, including local priorities and needs, guided by relevant national policy."

Paragraph 10 of the same document goes on "Local planning authorities must determine planning applications in accordance with the statutory Development Plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. If the Development Plan contains material policies or proposals and there are no other material considerations, the application should be determined in accordance with the Development Plan. Where there are other material considerations, the Development Plan should be the starting point, and other material considerations should be taken into account in reaching a decision. One such consideration will be whether the plan policies are relevant and up to date.

The NPPF makes the same point at paragraph 196

"The planning system is plan-led. Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This Framework is a material consideration in planning decisions."

The 2004 Act provides that if there is a conflict between policies in a DPD, the most recent policy will take precedence."

Planning Officer's reports

When a decision is being taken on a planning application, it can be considered by the elected members of the Planning Committee or delegated by the LPA to a Planning Officer of the LPA. In the former case the Planning Officer should normally produce a written report setting out details of the site, the relevant policies in the development plan and a recommendation in terms of approving or refusing the application. In the latter case a clear written memorandum detailing the reasons for the decision taken should be prepared and provided by the relevant officer.


If an application is refused by the LPA (or granted subject to conditions that the applicant regards as unacceptable) the applicant can, within six months of the date of refusal, appeal the decision to the Secretary of State. This will mean that the merits of the case are considered by an independent professionally qualified Planning Inspector. The Inspector will determine the appeal or (if the Secretary of State so requires) prepare a report for submission to the Secretary of State for him to determine the appeal.

Planning Portal

An appeal can be carried out in one of three ways: the written representation procedure, by way of an informal hearing or at a Public Inquiry. In accordance with the guidance set out in the Planning Inspectorate Procedural Guidance: planning appeals and called -in planning applications" (August 2013) the Planning Inspectorate will have the final say on the type of appeal. Criteria are set out in Annexe J of the Guidance note that indicates the factors to be considered in determining the mode of appeal.

In certain circumstances a party to a planning appeal can make an application for costs. Indeed, from October 2013, a decision to award costs against a party may be initiated by an Inspector or the Secretary of State, of his own volition (Planning Practice Guide – Planning Portal). The basis for awarding costs is statutory but guidance is contained in Circular 03/09 "Costs Awards in Appeals and Other Planning Proceedings" (Planning Portal). In all cases, irrespective of the outcome of the appeal, costs may only be awarded against a party who has behaved unreasonably and thereby caused another party to incur or waste expense unnecessarily.

Ten Commitments

Central to the operators’ approach to network development is consultation with local communities, planning officers and other stakeholders on any proposed new developments. Pre-application consultation is included in the operators’ ‘Ten Commitments to Best Siting Practice’, which has existed since 2001 to help address concerns relating to the development of base stations, and which is now contained in planning guidance throughout the UK.

Sharing Sites

Mobile phone users in the UK increasingly want better coverage and greater capacity so they can access more services on their phones. While this means that new base stations will still be needed, network operators seek to share sites wherever possible. Site sharing helps reduce energy consumption and the overall environmental footprint of networks, as well as improving the quality of coverage.