Public Inquiry

Councils have the right to refuse planning permission for a development; lodging a Planning Appeal is needed to contend the refusal of planning permission, and as part of this process the Council will have to set out the clear and unambiguous reasons why an application was refused.

Appealing a planning decision by way of a public inquiry is the most complex and intensive form of appealing a planning decision. These are typically reserved for the examination of complex evidence which involves the use of a Planning Barrister or QC. Witnesses are required to give evidence and face cross-examination from the other side’s advocate. As a result, it can be highly contentious and adversarial and usually reserved for schemes of significant local interest and size and scale. The decision as to whether a planning appeal is dealt with by a Public Inquiry ultimately rests with the Planning Inspectorate.

How Long do Inquiries Take?

The timeline for a Public Inquiry is as follows:

  • 10 Days before the Appeal is submitted – Appellant writes to the Council notifying them of intention to Appeal.
  • 10 Days later – appeal submitted with Statement of Case and draft Statement of Common Ground.
  • Appeal Validated by Inspectorate and start date set.
  • 1 week from start date – Council’s questionnaire issued.
  • 5 weeks from start date – Council’s Statement of Case issued
  • 7 weeks from start date – Case Conference with Inspector/Council/Appellant
  • 4 weeks before Inquiry – Proof of Evidence Deadline
  • 16 weeks from start date – Inquiry
  • 26 Weeks from start date – Decision


We never charge for that initial conversation and investigation into your site or development and we always give you a free initial assessment of your chances of success.

Contact us for your free initial assessment

Why Choose Us?

Extensive experience of being an Expert Witness

Working relationships with a number of leading Counsel.

Strong negotiation Skills, used with diplomacy, to contest your case.

Public inquiries present a few challenges, where having an experienced team is essential to maximise the chances of your appeal being successful. It is about choosing the right advocate and key witnesses to support your case. At McLoughlin Planning we have the experience of working with some of the top planning barristers in the country, providing expert insight into Inquiry strategy, the drafting and presentation of evidence and the critical role of administering the appeal.

As expert witnesses for Planning, we are tasked with critically reviewing all the policies relevant to the determination of the application and working with Counsel to assemble the best case for your appeal. This equally draws on our confident presentation skills, presenting your case and facing cross-examination.

Whilst it is an adversarial process, diplomacy and negotiation are equally important. We work carefully to agree on common ground with the Council to avoid unnecessary arguments and costs. These skills can also reduce the number of reasons for refusal, saving time and money.

Find out more about our work

Retail & Public Sector

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We help deliver vital public infrastructure to help build stronger communities.

We work with various public sector partners, including local government, Town and Parish Councils and County Councils, to guide important infrastructure projects through the planning process. Taking a collaborative approach with councils and communities helps us understand all parties' needs and deliver the projects required.


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A thriving economy is reliant on a buoyant commercial sector - we help deliver the permissions companies need.

We have comprehensive experience in promoting commercial sites for different uses across a diverse range of locations and overcoming a variety of scenarios. Our approach and expertise seek to understand and address environmental and social factors to maintain the integrity of our clients while ensuring the timely delivery of projects.

Residential Development

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We get results on a wide range of development projects – from single homes up to strategic sites.

Our expertise in supporting development projects from single homes up to strategic sites allows us to work on one of the biggest challenges the UK experiences; delivering housing to meet demand. We take an innovative, collaborative and strategic approach to sites in developed and undeveloped areas, including those that are allocated for homes and others in the promotion phase.

Health Care

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We help put in place the amenities that support communities and provide much needed medical care for our population.

We work with care providers on projects helping them implement or improve infrastructure in order to provide the very best medical facilities for the community. Experience shows us that a collaborative approach is required to understand the needs and desires of all interested parties and to achieve the best outcome.

Rural & Estates

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We are proud of our record in the rural economy and our role in the countryside.

Our expertise includes offering advice on agricultural development, diversification and redevelopment projects for rural clients and estate managers. We have experience working with agricultural advisors and agents, giving us valuable links and insight into the community. Our membership of the CLA, AVA and support for the RAU is invaluable to our work.

Private Client

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We guide our private clients through the planning system to realise their hopes and dreams.

Our highly experienced consultants offer their expertise and discretion to guide private clients to realise their hopes and dreams. We take the time to get to know our clients and work out how to achieve their project ambitions on time and on budget.

Home Owner

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Create the home you want and need

We work with homeowners and their architects or designers to offer comprehensive support in obtaining planning permission for their home modifications, extensions or outbuildings; an area particularly popular with the increased numbers of people choosing to work from home in recent years.

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Our clients

Our focus is our clients, delivery results and building lasting relationships. Since our foundation in 2009, we’ve worked with a breadth of clients that stretch from individuals realising a development aspiration to FTSE 100 listed companies with dedication to our client’s needs at the core of every engagement.


Get in touch

If you are interested in finding out how we can help you please get in touch