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6,000 new homes almost scuppered by councillor objections

More than 6,000 new homes will now be built after councillors’ objections were overturned on appeal, according to new research.

A new report by the planning consultancy Lichfields found that of the 78 appeals in 2017, where a refusal was made against planning officer recommendations, almost two thirds (65%) were later allowed, amounting to over 6,000 homes.

The research examined all rejected planning applications for developments of 50 homes or more in situations where officers recommend approval, but councillors went against that advice and decided to refuse permission.

In a third of cases – equating to 4,000 homes – councillors were justified in overturning officer recommendations, with the appeal being dismissed by a planning inspector or the Secretary of State.

The research shows whilst the majority of appeals were located within authorities without an up-to-date Local Plan, this did not have seem to have a significant impact on the outcome of the appeals.

And appeals are most often allowed when councillors had refused on the grounds of highways and other transport related issues – 74%.

Other successful grounds for an appeal included impact on character, sustainable development and height and scale of development.

In addition, the research, focused on England, Scotland and Wales, found that over 50% of relevant appeals were in Conservative-controlled authorities, compared to 14% in Labour-run councils.

‘The delivery of housing is at the top of the political agenda,’ said Lichfields associate director, Rachel Clements.

‘But, whilst there has been lots of focus on planning policies and housing delivery, very little attention has been given to the quality of decision making.

‘Our research has shown that in some instances developers are being pushed into an unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming appeal process, on the basis of local decision-making that proves less resilient at appeal than where officers recommended refusal.’

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