"It is a real issue" - 63% of appeals made against committee decisions were allowed


Members of the Strategic Planning Board have been warned to make sure their decisions, particularly when going against the planning officer's recommendation, are made on "solid grounds" due to the high level of appeals the Council has been losing.

Figures discussed at this month's meeting of the Strategic Planning Board revealed that whilst only 22% of appeals against officer's (delegated) decisions were allowed in the full year 2017/18, which is better than the national average of 32%, appeals against committee decisions are much less favourable.

Overall 63% of appeals made against committee decisions have been allowed during the full year 2017/18. When decisions contrary to officer recommendation are taken into account, this figure rises to over 70% of appeals allowed.

The overall number of appeals lodged has remained consistent and averages out at approximately 120 to 140 planning appeals annually. At present, approximately 30% of decisions to refuse planning permission will result in a planning appeal.

33.6% of all appeals were allowed in the full year for 2017/18, against a national average of 32%, however for the first quarter of this financial year 36.7% of appeals have been allowed.

Speaking at the Strategic Planning Board meeting David Malcolm, Principal Planning Officer, said "We're reasonably OK at the percentages, 33% is not far off national averages. The one area that obviously shouts out at you a little bit is when it comes to the difference between delegated decisions and committee decisions.

"Those are the numbers we are looking at, 64, 65 and last quarter 77%. They're all quite high and not where we want to be. That puts us into very difficult territory if we get to those levels. but what I am not saying is that officers get ti right all the time. I am definitely not saying that."

David Malcolm added "When members are looking to perhaps overturn an officer's recommendation, and there are times members have refused something that has been dismissed at appeal as well, it is just making sure there are on solid grounds.

He continued "It is a real issue you just need to be aware of."

Cheshire East Council, Planning Applications


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Jon Newell
Friday 10th August 2018 at 4:33 pm
This sums up the issue perfectly.
To whom do the elected councillors on the SPB owe their loyalty?
Is it to the full time officers employed by CEC?
Is it to those who elected them?
Almost all constituents would assume the duty is to the electors.
From the tone of the comments quoted in this article, it seems this is not the case - the comment that there are far fewer successful appeals to the decisions of the officers seems to undermine the whole concept of local democracy.
Mark Goldsmith
Sunday 12th August 2018 at 4:26 pm
Of course CE might win more appeals if it just lodged the correct documents in time.

It lost the Kings Arms car wash appeal because it never submitted its reasoning on time, so automatically lost the appeal.
Pete Taylor
Sunday 12th August 2018 at 6:20 pm
@ Mark, and WE had to pay the appellant’s costs! Another set of donkey’s ears in the Planning Department cupboard!
Toni Fox
Monday 13th August 2018 at 4:25 pm
I’m not sure this article entirely represents all the facts.

Planning applications are considered by Planning Committees rather than the decision being delegated to be made by a Council officer for a number of reasons. Scale of the proposals, the type of proposals, or because the Cheshire East Ward Councillor has called them in to Committee for it’s decision because of their and their residents concerns about the proposals.

In quarter 4 of the last calendar year (1st Jan 2018 to 31st March 2018) 34 delegated decisions were appealed and 7 Committee decisions were appealed as detailed below:

A decision made by the Strategic Planning Boar to refuse planning permission ultimately led to a Public Enquiry. The decision made by the Committee to refuse the application was upheld.

4 appeals were made against decisions by the Northern Planning Committee. 1 was dismissed and 3 were allowed, however, one of the these relates to the planning application for the car wash adjacent to the Kings Arms where the Council did not submit its representation on time to the appeal Inspector.

2 appeals were made against decisions by the Southern Planning Committee. 1 was dismissed and 1 was allowed.

In quarter 1 of this year (1st April 2018 to 30th June 2018) 26 delegated decisions were appealed and 4 decisions Committee decisions were appealed:

No appeals were made against decisions made by the Strategic Planning Board

2 appeals against decisions made by the Northern Planning Committee. Both were allowed.

2 appeals against decisions made by the Southern Planning Committee. 1 was allowed and one dismissed.

Technically therefore yes, 75% of appeals made during Quarter 1 were lost at appeal, but we are talking about 4 decisions, very low numbers, and about planning applications that affect residents.

As a member of Strategic Planning Board I take the responsibility very seriously - the decisions we make affect current residents lives and future residents lives - permanently.

Councillor Toni Fox

Dean Row ward, Wilmslow.
Pete Taylor
Monday 13th August 2018 at 7:39 pm
Toni, thanks for your comprehensive explanation of the facts. It is a matter of some regret that my own Ward Councillor and those next door don’t ever bother to engage with their electorate on social media (or anywhere else). No don’t they are too busy whooping it up in the recently refurbished Con club.
Stuart Gallaway
Tuesday 14th August 2018 at 8:17 am
It's interesting to read Toni's very clear explanation of the facts. However, expanding on the above, it is rather disturbing to learn that there are at least two cases where this delegated authority has been misused. In the first, a planning approval condition imposed by the NPC was overridden by a case officer and, in the second, the same case officer issued his planning approval report a week before the consultation period had expired.

These are just two cases that have been highlighted. How many similar cases have been missed? Will this officer be taken to task for overriding an NPC planning condition and also for not following due process in approving an application before the consultation period had finished? Or is Cheshire East going to allow him to continue misusing his delegated authority?
Terry Roeves
Wednesday 15th August 2018 at 6:55 pm
A valuable insight from Cllr Toni Fox. It’s good to have an Independent voice.
David Nelson
Thursday 16th August 2018 at 9:01 am
Committee could qualify for a "B" grade in incompetence at A level.