Feedback and complaints
The Planning Inspectorate strives to provide the best possible service and welcomes suggestions and feedback on all aspects of its work. To continue to improve customer service, you should tell us when we do well, when we fail to meet your expectations or how we could improve.
If you are not satisfied with the service you have received, the process we have followed or think that a mistake has been made in a decision, you can contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone on 0303 444 5884, or by letter to the Customer Quality team (see below). We will look at feedback submitted before or after a planning appeal decision has been issued. We will take your comments seriously and investigate the issues raised.
How we investigate
Our Customer Quality team will acknowledge correspondence, investigate and reply as soon as possible. You should receive a response within 20 working days.
Planning inspectors have no further direct involvement in a case once their decision has been issued. It is the role of the Customer Quality team to investigate complaints or queries about decisions, Inspector conduct, and the administrative process that supported the appeal. The Customer Quality team works independently of Inspectors and casework teams, ensuring that all complaints are investigated thoroughly and impartially. You will receive a reply in clear, straightforward language, free from jargon and complicated legal terms.
To assist our investigations, we may need to ask the Inspector, other staff, or potential witnesses for their comments on your correspondence. This helps us gain as full a picture as possible, so that we are better able to decide whether an error has been made.
Once our investigations are complete, we will send a full reply, comprehensively responding to all the substantive points raised. Any subsequent correspondence in reply to this, unless raising fresh points, will be subject to our complaints escalation policy and reviewed by a senior manager. If you think we have not done everything possible to resolve your complaint, you can also ask any Member of Parliament (MP) to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (England) or the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales (Wales). The Ombudsman will expect you to have tried to resolve your complaint at the earlier stages of our complaints procedure before they look into it. The Ombudsman does not have the power to alter an Inspector’s decision.
Putting things right
Where an error we have made has led to injustice or difficulty, we will try to offer a solution, which returns the complainant to the position they would have otherwise been in. If that is not possible, we will provide compensation for unnecessary expense incurred as a direct result of our error, where there are compelling reasons to do so.
We will consider complaints and requests for financial compensation received within six months of the date of the error or of any subsequent appeal decision by the Inspectorate related to that error.
Forms of redress which we may offer include:
an apology, explanation and acknowledgement of responsibility
remedial action, which may include reviewing service standards, updating published material, revising procedures to prevent the same thing happening again, training or supervising staff (or any combination of these)
financial compensation for costs incurred as a direct result of the Inspectorate’s error.
All you need to know about how to make an appeal or challenge a decision in the High Court can be found in the Planning Inspectorate’s Procedural Guides.
We try hard to ensure that everyone who uses the appeal system is satisfied with the service they receive from us. Appealing a decision can be a stressful process: it is inevitable that at least one party will be disappointed with the outcome. This can lead to a complaint, either about the decision itself or the way in which the appeal was handled. Some of the terminology used in the planning process is explained in a glossary of terms. We have also provided a list of FAQs below, which we hope you might find helpful.
Can the decision be reviewed if a mistake has occurred?
No. Although we can rectify minor slips, we cannot reconsider the evidence the Inspector took into account or the reasoning in the decision. This can only be done following a successful High Court challenge on a point of law.
So what is the point of complaining?
As a customer facing organisation, we are keen to learn from our mistakes and try to make sure they do not happen again. Complaints are, therefore, one way of helping us improve.
What do the terms “Allowed” and “Dismissed” mean on the decision?
“Allowed” means that planning permission has been granted, “Dismissed” means that it has not.
Why did an appeal succeed when local residents were against it?
Local views are important, but they are likely to be more persuasive if based on planning reasons, rather than a basic like or dislike of the proposal. Inspectors have to balance all of the often conflicting information and views before reaching their decision. How can Inspectors know about local feeling or issues if they don’t live in the area? Using Inspectors who do not live locally ensures they have no personal interest in any local issues or any ties with the main parties. However, Inspectors will be aware of local views from the representations people have submitted and from their visit of the local area and site before a decision is made.
I wrote to you with my views, why didn’t the Inspector mention this?
Inspectors must give reasons for their decision and take into account all views submitted, but it is not necessary to list every piece of evidence.
Why did my appeal fail when similar appeals nearby succeeded?
Although two cases may be similar, there will always be some aspect of a proposal which is unique. Each case is decided on its own particular merits.
I’ve just lost my appeal, is there anything else I can do to get my permission?
The appeal decision will highlight what the Inspector found unacceptable about the proposed development. In some cases, it may be possible to address these problems, in which case you should in the first instance talk to your local planning authority’s planning officers or take advice from a planning consultant.
What can I do if someone is ignoring a planning condition or I want to check the actioning of an enforcement notice?
Responsibility of ensuring conditions are complied with sits with the relevant local planning authority. They can investigate and have discretionary powers to take action if a condition is being ignored. An enforcement notice, which is upheld on appeal, is also the responsibility of the local planning authority. In both cases, we are unable to investigate their work and you should contact them to raise your query or concerns. Our involvement in the appeal ends with the issuing of the Inspector’s decision.
Customer Quality Team,
The Planning Inspectorate,
4/05 Kite Wing, Temple Quay House,
2 The Square
Bristol BS1 6PN
Tel: 0303 444 5884