Planning & Environment

The new planning appeal procedure rules continue to be a voyage of discovery – I attended my first pre-examination meeting yesterday (my voyage to Motherwell in the snow is a saga in itself!).

It’s a big change from the pre-inquiry meetings of old. A PIM was only held once it had been decided there would be a public inquiry. The main topic for the PEM is the reporter’s provisional view of the further procedure to be held, so there are important procedural issues to debate, not just agreeing timetabling and other arrangements.

In the appeal my clients (the appellants) contend that no further procedure is required. The planning authority and third parties want a public inquiry. The reporter’s provisional view was that there should be an inquiry, but just to discuss planning policy and related need arguments, and a hearing on conditions. So there was a lot to debate at the PEM – the reporter sought views from the parties on the appropriateness of each option – ie. written submissions, hearing, and/ or inquiry.

The PEM also involves a debate on which issues need further procedure. In this case the planning authority tried to persuade the reporter to widen his provisional inquiry topic to include all their reasons for refusal.

With the frontloading of the appeal procedure, by the time of the PEM there is much more detail in the parties’ written cases than at a PIM. Yesterday’s PEM showed the potential for that to result in legal skirmishes about whether points being made went beyond the content of the written case.

So – the PEM is a more significant and detailed discussion – it’s a much longer meeting.

And now the parties wait with bated breath for the reporter to issue his procedure notice, which will inform us what the further procedure will be, and which issues will be included.

Neil Collar

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