The Welsh Government (WG) have launched a consultation into how they handle appeals, call-ins and other decision-making duties. The consultation runs until 30th January 2015.
The aims of the proposed changes are stated to be:
“a) increasing the speed of decisions, thereby promoting growth and providing greater certainty to developers
b) remove unnecessary and outdated procedures from the determination process
c) increase fairness for all involved through enabling decisions to be made at the local level, wherever possible”
The WG intend to formalise as standard practice the Householder Appeals Service (HAS) and Commerical Appeals Service (CAS), which have been pilot schemes so far. They also propose to integrate advertisement appeals into the CAS.
Another proposal within the consultation is to change the process under which call-in decisions and/or appeals in relation to proposals from statutory undertakers are held, i.e. unless otherwise directed, Welsh Ministers will solely determine the appeals and called-in applications, rather than being determined jointly with the UK Government.
In regards to non-determination appeals, the proposal set out in this consultation paper is that applicants would in the future have the right to appeal against non-determination at any point after the target date (i.e. it would remove the time limit of six months in which to appeal against non-determination). Changes would also enable a local authority to determine an application which has already been appealed on the grounds of non-determination. The consultation paper proposes a period of four weeks following the submission of such an appeal for the LPA to reach an agreement on a decision: if approved the appellant may withdraw the appeal or proceed on different grounds – such as against conditions; if refused the appeal will become an appeal against the refusal. If no decision is made in that period the non-determination appeal continues.
Another proposed change relates to the appeals that are prescribed to be determined by Welsh Ministers rather than Inspectors, the result being that Inspectors would be empowered to determine more appeals than at present (e.g. Grade I and II* listed buildings, hazardous substances).
These changes all seem sensible and should simplify matters – the changes to the non-determination appeal options in particular are supported.