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Officers using delegated powers must give full reasons for decisions

Following a high court ruling officers are now required to give their reasons for granting a planning permission under delegated authority.

Where a planning permission is granted subject to conditions the permission must clearly state the reason for each condition. Where planning permission is refused the refusal notice must clearly and precisely state the full reasons for refusal. 

Since June 2013, there has been no statutory obligation in planning law to set out reason why planning permission was being granted.

This has now, perhaps unintentionally, changed - not through a change in planning law but because of the court's interpretation of the law controlling local authority decision making.

In a pre-Christmas judgment the Court ruled that regulation 7 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 applies to decisions made by planning officers under delegated powers.

Regulation 7 requires that delegated decisions should be supported by a written record setting out:

  • the date of the decision;
  • the reasons for the decision; and
  • details of alternative options that were considered and rejected.

This record must be made available to the public as soon as reasonably practicable after the date of the decision. Unreasonable withholding of the report is a criminal offence.

Officers making delegated decisions ought, either in their reports or separately if they rely on a colleague's report, give proper, adequate and intelligible reasons dealing with the substantive points in the decision. This should include why the permission was granted, whether the decision was, as required by the planning law, in accordance with the development plan or if not which material considerations supported the decision to grant permission. To do otherwise will run the risk of a challenge.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at January 2017. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions

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