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Planning Appeals

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans for speeding up the handling of appeals made against enforcement notices served by local planning authorities; and whether he will make a statement.

Yes. My right hon. Friend, with the agreement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, has made regulations transferring to inspectors a large proportion of appeals against enforcement notices. The regulations have been laid before the House and are to come into effect on 12th April. An advisory circular is being sent to local authorities today explaining the effect of the regulations and how the Departments will operate under them. Appeals will no longer be reserved for decision by the Secretary of State simply because the grounds of appeal include a legal point. If the inspector finds that, in the light of the arguments on either side, any legal issues are within his competence, he will proceed to determine the appeal. If he wishes to obtain clarification of the law on a particular matter he will be free to consult the Departments lawyers and will then give his decision applying the law to the facts of the case as brought out in the evidence he has heard. Where he finds that the appeal raises complex legal issues he will ask the Secretary of State to recover jurisdiction; indeed, at whatever stage it becomes evident that jurisdiction ought to be recovered, it will be done.It is expected that about 70 per cent. of enforcement appeals will be decided by inspectors under the new arrangements, as compared with 30 per cent. at present. This will lead to a substantial reduction in the average time taken to determine these appeals.