The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has the power to take over the determination of a planning applications rather than letting the local authority decide it. This is referred to as “calling the application in”. Similarly, the Secretary of State can “recover” a planning appeal which has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in order to determine it. Sometimes, a Local Planning Authority must consult the Secretary of State if they resolve to grant permission for certain types of development.
The Secretary of State will, in general, only consider the use of his/her call-in powers if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. Such cases may include, for example, those which in his opinion:
may conflict with national policies on important matters;
may have significant long-term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single local authority;
could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality;
give rise to substantial cross-boundary or national controversy;
raise significant architectural and urban design issues; or
may involve the interests of national security or of foreign governments.
Anyone can ask for a planning application to be called-in. Applicants should give clear reasons why they think that the application should be called-in, including why it is of more than local importance. The Secretary of State will decide whether an application directed to them for decision will be determined by them or not.
Further information on the criteria for calling in on the planning applications and recovered appeals can be accessed here.
The Secretary of State has to take published government policy into account when deciding whether or not to call in a planning application, and when making the decision. If the Secretary of State decides to call in a planning application, an Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate is appointed to carry out a public inquiry into the proposal. The Inspector will then prepare a report on the application including a recommendation to approve or refuse the application. The Secretary of State will then consider the report and determine the application – their decision might not necessarily follow the Inspector’s recommendation but has to take their findings into account.
Contact details for requesting the call-in of a planning application are:
National Planning Casework Unit
5 St Philips Place