Applying for planning permission second nature to us, and although very rare, there are occasions when permission is refused.

This happened recently on one of our projects in the South Hams.  Whilst we were very disappointed as we thought the design was frankly ‘amazing’; we also know our scheme was entirely compliant with Planning Policy and the Local Plan and therefore we felt the project had been unjustly refused permission and that grounds for appeal existed.

At In Ex Design we take great care to guide our clients through the planning process so, that the designs we prepare have a high likelihood of being accepted in terms of planning policy.  However, we also make it clear to our clients that we cannot guarantee that approvals are be granted – no one can do that – so beware those who guarantee anything! Although policy sets out a framework, several parts of that framework are open to interpretation and can be subjective (particularly in respect to design). Plus, there is also the weight of local feeling which can affect the local planning departments view on an application. But despite all of this, if you are complying with all the policies (and not asking for something unacceptable) you should be okay!

So, back to our recent project.  Through our knowledge of the area and our research, we knew the project could meet some resistance, but we were confident that it met both the client’s requirements and planning policies.

During the application we had extensive discussions with the planning officer and parish council, and took note of the objections from neighbours. We discussed the project with the client and amended designs were submitted that responded to the relevant points raised. Unfortunately, the planning officer did not believe that they went far enough and they refused the application. As we have already mentioned, this did not come as a surprise and we had prepared our client for this possible outcome.

Our client had a choice; accept the planning officer’s opinion and change the design to something that the officer would deem acceptable (but they felt was a compromise too far) or accept a refusal and submit an appeal. They chose refusal and appeal.

Whilst we were confident that the application should be acceptable to the planning inspectorate, we advised our client to appoint a planning consultant. Bell Cornwell produced a very thorough document to support the appeal and the planning inspectorate agreed entirely that the refusal issued by South Hams was unjust. We received the approval notice, and are excited to see this scheme develop further on site.

Whilst we would always like our plans to be accepted first time; this example does demonstrate that even if planning is initially refused, it isn’t necessarily the end of the road.

If you feel strongly that what you want is acceptable and you have the support of a quality professional team, you can get the design you want.

If you’d like to talk to us about your planning application, you can contact us on 01395 233807 or email us at