If a developer appeals a decision that goes against it, the application will move for consideration to a higher level of government. In England and Wales, it will be considered by the Planning Inspectorate, an independent government body. In England, the Planning Inspectorate serves the Department of Communities and Local Government, which is the government department that deals with planning. In Wales, it serves the National Assembly for Wales.
In Scotland, appeals are dealt with by the Inquiry Reporters Unit, a part of the Scottish Executive. The Ministers appoint a reporter. The reporter either makes a decision or report backs to the Minister who makes the decision. See the Scottish Executive planning website for more information.
In Northern Ireland appeals are dealt with by the Planning Appeals Commission, an independent body. See its website for more information.
If there is an appeal in England, a Planning Inspector appointed by the Planning Inspectorate will look into the application and make a decision or recommendation based on its compliance with national, local and regional planning documents. For smaller stores, the inspector’s decision will hold. For larger stores, the inspector will make a recommendation and that recommendation will then either be upheld or rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The appeal process offers another chance for the public to have their say. Click here for information on how to do so. The process usually includes a Public Inquiry, a series of hearings in public held by the Inspector with the local Council, the applicant, and some third parties. This will be a stage in the Inspector’s consideration of the application. He or she will then report on the application and make a decision, or make a recommendation which the Secretary of State will ultimately act on.
If the Inspector believes that the local Council has made the right decision in refusing the application, then he or she will dismiss the appeal or recommend to the Secretary of State that it be dismissed. However, if the Inspector disagrees with the local Council's decision, he or she will allow the appeal or recommend to the Secretary of State that it is allowed (in the case of larger schemes). In the latter case, the final decision will then rest with the Secretary of State.
A developer can also appeal against a failure on the part of the local Council to consider the application within the time limit (usually 13 weeks). In these cases, the Planning Inspector will make the decision on the application, potentially involving a Public Inquiry. The local Council can give its opinion on the application through this process.