Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



Supplementary Memorandum by The Planning Inspectorate (TF 34(c))

  You will recall that, in our initial response of 14 February, to your letter of 1 February, we gave a short statistical statement of the number of appeals involving travelling showpeople over the last three years. We had identified 29 appeals, comprising 18 planning appeals and 11 enforcement appeals.

  You will appreciate that in view of the limited time available and because of the crude nature of our database our initial response was of necessity constrained. However, we have now had time to analyse the appeals, contained within 20 decision letters. From this we have discovered that the original figures we gave you were over-simplified. The matter is complicated because any one decision letter, or document, may be about more than one appeal. Each appeal might concern quite different, albeit related, matters. Our statistical information does not always distinguish accurately between cases. But in order to ensure that the Sub-committee has accurate information about substantive cases, we have now had the opportunity to analyse the decision letters in a more sophisticated way. Within the 20 documents containing decisions issued in the last three years, there are 29 substantive cases (the total figure we originally gave). However, the breakdown is slightly different from the information we gave before this detailed analysis. We have now found that:

    —  Of 15 section 78 planning appeal cases, 80 per cent were allowed (12) and only 20 per cent (three) dismissed. This compares with a current average of 35 per cent of all planning appeals being allowed.

    —  Of 14 section 174 enforcement appeal cases, only two (14 per cent) were allowed, resulting in the notice being quashed. This compares with the average 25 per cent total success rate for all enforcement appeals. In the remaining 12, the enforcement notice was upheld (although nine of these were allowed to the limited extent of some variation being made, in the appellants' favour, to the requirements or the period for complying with them).

    —  Combining the 29 appeals gives an overall success rate of 48 per cent, which is still significantly higher than the section 78 average of 35 per cent and the enforcement average of 25 per cent.

  A copy of the analysis follows.

  The marked difference between section 78 and section 174 results is not accounted for by the different disciplines of the Inspectors concerned. All are subject to the same policy advice and internal training and guidance. Moreover, all enforcement Inspectors are well-drilled in the rule that they give no weight whatsoever (either for or against the appellant) to the fact that, in enforcement appeals, the development will already have taken place (which may or may not be the case in planning appeals). The section 78 results show that Inspectors are evidently giving significant weight to the general and personal needs of travelling showmen, in line with the Circular, and in addition to purely land-use planning considerations. But there is no reason to suppose that Inspectors are giving any less weight to these needs in enforcement cases. We suggest that the lower success rate rather indicates that local planning authorities are heeding the Circular's advice, including that in Planning Policy Guidance Note 18 concerning the enforcement of planning control in respect of small businesses, and only taking enforcement action as a last resort in the worst cases. Viewed in this context, the enforcement figures are less surprising.

  We have approached the 19 Inspectors involved in these cases, for their comments on the questions in the five bullet points contained in your letter of 1 February. Once all these have been received, I will be able to report on them when appearing before the Sub-committee on 21 March.

  Meanwhile, you also asked for some further analysis of the above figures realting to the 29 substantive cases and I hope the following is helpful:


  Of the 20 decision letters, it appears that two, at most, concerned winter quarters confined to use in the winter months only.

  The vast majority (16) related to all-year-round use, albeit usually at less intensity during the fair season.

  We have not identified any cases specifically concerning quarters for retired showpeople.

  The remaining two letters involved showpeople, but either turned on legal issues only, with no consideration of the planning merits of the case, or did not involve Circular 22/91 issues as the appellant concerned was engaged in some other activity.


  Out of 20 decision letters, applications for awards of costs were made in six.

  Costs claimed by appellants against local planning authorities were refused in three cases and granted in two cases (including the Bromsgrove case for which you have the decisions).

  In the one case where costs were claimed by the authority against the appellant, they were granted because the appeal had gone over the same ground as an earlier appeal relating to the same matter and there had been no intervening change in the relevant circumstances.


  Of the 20 decision letters, five related to sites in the Green Belt (of which three were recovered for decision by the Secretary of State on the ground that they raised important issues of development control in the Green Belt).

  In two of these five cases (both section 78 appeals) the appeals were allowed and conditional planning permission granted (one by an Inspector and the other by the Secretary of State in accordance with the Inspector's recommendation). These are the Thurrock and Bromsgrove cases on which you already have the letters.

  In the remaining three of these five cases (including one combining section 78 and section 174 appeals) the appeals were dismissed (two by Secretary of State in accordance with the Inspectors' recommendations and one by the Inspector).


  Conditions were imposed in all 12 decision letters where planning permissions were granted (including the Warrington, Thurrock and Bromsgrove cases on which you have the letters).

  In two cases seeking discharge of conditions previously imposed, the conditions were discharged, with other, less onerous conditions substituted. But one of these cases seeking discharge of two conditions was only successful in respect of one, while the other, limiting the use to winter rather than permanent quarters, was upheld. This was one of the two cases we have identified as involving winter quarters only.

LPADecision Letter date Appeal Ref APP/Costs Section 78Section 174
AllowedDismissed AllowedDismissed
Sandwell MBC1 October 1997 G4620/A/97/2804451
Tewkesbury BC10 November 1997 G1630/C/97/647413Costs awarded to Council 1*
Fylde BC18 November 1997 M2325/A/97/2844001
New Forest DC11th December 1997 C/96/B1740/643520-22 and
Costs not awarded against Council1 21
West Dorset DC21 January 1998 C/97/F1230/647802-04 3*
Guildford BC 20 February 1998 Recovered case, decided by SSETR C/96/Y3615/644046
Bridgnorth DC10 March 1998 C/97/J3205/647331-2 1
Crawley BC23 April 1998 C/96/Q3820/642039;
Costs not awarded against Council 11*
Wealden DC29 May 1998 C1435/A/97/2895781
East Cambridgeshire DC12 June 1998 C/97/V0510/647517-524Costs 4*
Chelmsford BC27 July 1998 W1525/A/98/293792 1
Winchester City8 October 1998 L1765/A/98/297885 1
Thurrock BC9 October 1998 M1595/A/98/2948901
New Forest DC15 January 1999 B1740/A/98/10113841
Wigan MBC24 May 1999 Decision by SSETR V4250/A/98/300786 1
Doncaster MBC3 August 1999 F4410/A/99/10230151
Warrington BC29 September 1999 M0655/A/99/1022065Costs awarded against Council 1
Thurrock BC20 October 1999 M1595/A/99/102541711
Bromsgrove DC8 December 1999 decided by SSETR P1805/A/99/1024933Costs awarded against Council 1
Winchester City13 December 1999 L1765/A/99/10286771
TOTALS 1232 12 (of which 9 varied—marked with an *)
15 Section 78 cases14 Section 174 cases
Allowed 14 (12 + 2)
Dismissed 15 (3 + 12)
Chris Shepley
Chief Planning Inspector

March 2000

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