The Planning Inspector will consider the documentation submitted to the Department as part of the original application and any further information received as part of the appeal process. The Planning Appeals Administrator aims to request initial written submissions as soon as the appeal is received. They will notify interested parties of the date and time by which the documents must be received (normally within 21 days). Whilst the reason for an appeal will have substantiated the original appeal request, the grounds of appeal made by an appellant may be elaborated within their initial written submission and should be set out clearly the detail of their appeal.
Appeal submissions should explain whether you agree with the initial decision (i.e. want the appeal to be rejected) or whether you disagree with the initial decision (i.e. want the appeal to be successful). You should also explain your argument in detail, including reference to the initial decision (for example the reasons for refusal, if applicable). An appeal on the grounds that the decision of the Department is unacceptable will not suffice in planning terms. It should be noted that the Inspector will consider the application in full, even when an appeal is purely against a condition of approval, as the Minister is empowered to reverse or vary any part of the Department’s initial decision.
Once the initial written submissions are received the appeal will proceed either by further written exchanges (Written Representations) or by Hearings (Inquiry). Those with Interested Person Status can insist that there is a hearing. For applications submitted on or after the 1 January 2020 an additional fee will apply if you wish to insist on a hearing. For more information see www.gov.im/planningreform
Appeals in Writing (Written Representations)
The Written Representations procedure can help to speed up the process, and reduce costs for all parties.
If all interested parties agree, the Written Representations will be used. Interested parties will be contacted and notified of this, advised of how to view the initial submissions from other parties, and invited to submit further comments (rebuttal statements). The Inspector will consider the appeal on the basis of the initial written submission, the rebuttal statements and a site visit.
Appeal Hearings (Inquiry)
Inquiry hearings, when requested, are usually conducted by the Inspector in Government Offices who allows all parties opportunity to state their case, call any witnesses (which can include other people who have made comment but have not got Interested Person Status), and question any evidence produced by others.
Interested parties are normally given at least 21 days notice of the date and time of the hearing. The Department will be represented at hearings, usually by the Planning Officer who raised the report and original assessment of the application. All other parties should make arrangements to present their own case, either personally or by a representative.
It should be noted that hearings are not formal legal proceedings and where parties engage legal representation, such individuals cannot act in a legal capacity. In addition the costs of interested parties in Planning Appeals, including any representation, must be borne by the individual parties concerned. The Inspector will open the hearing by explaining what the appeal is about.
Whilst the primary Appellant(s) remain as those who originally paid the appeal fee, all other interested parties will be given opportunity to speak. The Inspector may give a summary of the Appellant and Department’s case, and say which topics will be discussed. In most cases the Appellant will be asked to present their case, followed by any other parties present who support the Appellant's case.
The Department's representative will be called to present their case, followed by any other parties who support the decision taken. Following the presentation of evidence, that evidence will be open to questions from those on the opposing side of the case together with questions from the Inspector.
Although hearings are usually informal, they must be orderly if everyone involved is to have a fair hearing. The key point to remember is that the format of the hearing is for the Inspector to determine, although he/she is required to properly explain the format at the outset.
Prior to any hearing, or consideration of a case using the written procedure, the Inspector will visit the site but will not discuss the application with any of the parties. This is because all interested parties have to make their case in writing, and discussing the matter with individual parties may be prejudicial to the appeal. On most occasions, the Appeals Administrator will accompany the Inspector. There is normally no need for other people to take part in the site visit, unless the site cannot be seen properly from the road or public viewpoint. In such circumstances, the Appeals Administrator will contact the relevant parties in advance for permission to gain access.