An unexpected submission of over 1,000 prior approval appeals for phone kiosks has compounded delays within the Planning Inspectorate (PINS). The PINS had been criticised in recent months for the slow speed at which appeals were being processed, with a failure to recruit enough inspectors also a key factor behind the delays.

The PINS Chief Executive, Sarah Richards, commented that forecasting the future appeal workload had been “generally very accurate” and workloads were anticipated to increase sharply, but conceded that “recruiting the right number of inspectors” had been a challenge. Richards explained that in the short-term there will not be a noticeable “step change” in performance, but the introduction of a new model of processing appeals “should release capacity back to mainstream work”. However, the outlook for next year is far more positive with a significant improvement in performance expected, and undoubtedly needed.

It had been claimed that dissatisfaction with ‘pay and progression’ were potential reasons for the decline in PINS service speeds, but this was again refuted by Richards who referred back to the recruitment issues and pointed towards a number of “inspectors retiring”. We will be eagerly monitoring their progress over the coming months, especially with regard to our own appeal submissions.