New rules have been introduced in an attempt to speed up planning appeals as of 6 April.
The first amendment relates to the Statement of Common Ground (SoCG). The 2009 Rules require that the SoCG be submitted 6 weeks after the start of the appeals process and not 4 weeks before the Inquiry as was previously the case. This will mean that parties will submit their SoCG at the same time as their statements of case. It is therefore more likely that the SoCG will inform the statements of case and vice versa. It is hoped that this cross-referencing will reduce the volume of evidence produced, and thereby the length of the inquiry, making the system more efficient and cost effective for all involved.
The second amendment removes the wholly underused 9-week comment stage for hearings and inquiries.