When Planning Permission Goes Wrong – A Guide to Lodging a Successful Appeal

If you put in a huge amount of effort on your planning application only for it to be refused, or laden down with overly onerous conditions, you’d understand be a bit miffed. Don’t lose hope – with the right appeal strategy you can still achieve your development dreams. This guide breaks down the planning appeal process and tips to help lodge a successful appeal and turn that refusal around.

The Basics of Planning Appeals

If a planning application is refused or you have objections to conditions, you have the right to lodge an appeal within six months for a standard application or 12 weeks from a householder refusal. You can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on grounds including being contrary to the development plan, inadequate reasons for refusal, or proportionality of conditions. Pay close attention to appeal types, whats required and timescale for submission.

Maximising Your Chances of Success

Certain grounds have better success rates than others, so choose carefully. Policy-based appeals are more likely to fare well than ones disputing an authority’s opinion. You’ll also need compelling evidence like viability assessments, traffic reports or design evaluations to directly counter the refusal reasons. Don’t underestimate the importance of presentation – polished documents and clear arguments can help win over inspectors.

Pre-Submission Consultation

Often refused schemes can be revised to address issues without a costly appeal. Requesting a meeting with the case officer presents an opportunity to negotiate amendments before embarking on an appeal. Compromise can allow proposals to be approved faster than an appeal.

The Appeal Process Step-by-Step

Once submitted, the Planning Inspectorate will first decide if your appeal is valid before proceeding. A hearing or inquiry may then occur for more complex cases where parties present in person.  However the most common and quickest way to appeal is via written representation which is the preferred appeal method for the Planning Inspectorate. With the right preparation appealing need not be scary – it offers a fresh opportunity.

What to (and not to) write in an Appeal

Here are some key dos and don’ts for crafting effective appeal documents:


  • Be concise yet comprehensive – Don’t be vague but focus on strongest points.
  • Refer to relevant policies/material facts – Demonstrate how your case aligns/differs.
  • If the Council doesn’t refuse your appeal on a specific point, then don’t mention it at appeal, it doesn’t add any weight if its an agreed point.
  • Provide robust evidence – Experts, reports, photos support your arguments.
  • Address all refusal/condition reasons – Don’t ignore contested aspects.
  • Use clear headings/organisation – Makes your case easy for inspector to follow.
  • Proofread thoroughly.


  • Repeat the application verbatim – Tailor to specific appeal grounds.
  • Rely on unsubstantiated claims – Firm up assertions with verifiable data.
  • Focus on non-material matters – Stick to policy objections.
  • Make speculative/hypothetical arguments – Stick to discernible facts/impacts.
  • Attack or antagonise the Council – Focus on the technical merits rationally.
  • Refer to new/changed details, unless the policy has changed since the refusal – The Inspector will assess the same details as Council.
  • Miss submission/format deadlines – Late/incorrect appeals risk the validity of an appeal.

Precision, substantiation and focusing squarely on legitimate appeal grounds are keys to an effective appeal process.

How to address a refusal or a condition at appeal

Here are some effective ways to address refusal or condition reasons in an appeal document:

For Refusal Reasons:

  • Quote the specific refusal reason text and directly rebut each stated point.
  • Provide counter-evidence, e.g. a noise report dismissing noise concerns.
  • Cite overriding policy support, e.g. meeting affordable housing need etc.
  • Argue the benefits outweigh the policy quoted based on x, y and z (evidence this).
  • Suggest viable alternatives still addressing the reason, e.g. a reconfigured site layout.

For Conditions:

  • Quote the specific condition and argue lack of justification/reasonableness.
  • Show how a condition fails the tests of being necessary, relevant to the development, and reasonable in all other respects.  Look at the National Planning Policy Framework for information relating to the test for conditions.
  • Demonstrate a condition would make the development unviable or unrealistic to implement.
  • Recommend revised wording if part of a condition is acceptable in modified form.

Common Appeal Pitfalls to Avoid

Rushing in leaves gaps for authorities to pick apart poorly evidenced cases. Avoid weak claims, ensure all documentation is complete and have backup plans if your appeal is dismissed. Don’t submit appeals without exploring other options first. With diligence, even the trickiest refusals can be challenged successfully.

Addressing each objection directly and methodically, supported by evidence, may assist in convincing the Inspector you have given due consideration to the Council’s concerns and provides rebuttals on technical planning merits.  This maximises chances of appeal success.

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More information for you is available in our series of eBooks and Practical Guides which cover everything from the very basics of town planning to application processes and what developers need to consider.

So if your hard work hits a snag, appeal with confidence. Understanding procedures and crafting persuasive cases delivers the best shot at overturning objections to move your development dreams forward. The system works both ways when used properly – let me know if you need any support along the appeal journey!  If you’re not sure if you need help from a Town Planner take a look at blog on When to Hire a Town Planner our download a Guide on How to Choose a Town Planner.

A Guide to Lodging a Successful Appeal