Planning Inspectorate’s First Virtual Hearing & Plans for More

June 11, 2020

By Peter Dixon

The decision has been issued following the first virtual planning hearing in England and the Planning Inspectorate has announced plans for ‘virtual events’ to become standard in most cases, at least for the duration of the current Covid-19 crisis.

The hearing to consider a planning appeal concerning an agricultural tied dwelling was conducted on 11 May 2020 by video conference involving the Inspector and four other participants during which it was agreed by the parties that a physical site visit by the Inspector would be unnecessary given the issues in the case and that adequate photographs has been provided.

The decision (dismissing the appeal) and a related costs decision were issued on 27 May 2020.

The hearing was described as a ‘pilot’ and on 13 May the Planning Inspectorate announced the resumption of site inspections in cases where it was safe to do so (thereby enabling most written appeals to be progressed) and that it was hoped to hold a further 20 examinations, hearings and inquiries as ‘digital events’ during May and June.  On 28 May the Planning Inspectorate provided a further update, stating that it was the intention to make ‘virtual events’ the standard option for the majority of events in future.  The working definition of ‘virtual’ includes the use of video conference and telephone.  The video platform of choice is apparently Microsoft Teams.