Over recent years, the planning inquiry process has been notoriously slow, resource heavy and expensive.
The Rosewell Review into Planning Inquiries (published in December 2018) set out 22 recommendations for changing the process, speeding up decision making and reducing the cost burden on all parties involved in the process. Following the Review, the Planning Inspectorate published its first Inquiries Review Action Plan last May, which set out how and when it intended to implement the recommendations.
The Planning Inspectorate has now released an update to its Inquiry Review Action Plan, which shows that significant progress has been made over the last year with 16 of the 22 recommendations and progress being made on all recommendations.
Crucially, the decisions of Inspectors on appeals via inquiries (which often took close to a year to be issued) have all been made within the target 26 weeks. It is clear that those involved in the process are getting to grips with the new tighter timescales.
However, the new digital portal for submitting and managing inquiry appeals (and on which a number of the recommendations are based) is currently being live tested and is not yet available. The roll out of the new digital portal will likely see a significant improvement to the management and progress of inquiry appeals and allow greater flexibility for participation in the process. It is expected that the new portal will be ready to go live in June, but we will have to wait and see how this progresses over the next few months.
100% of inquiry appeal cases that started as an inquiry and were decided by an inspector have been completed in 26 weeks or less.