Making defensible planning decisions

Making robust planning decisions which can be defended to the public and at appeal can be challenging. If your council would like to train its committee members in the key elements of defensible decision making, and alongside this, review, reflect and learn from some of its past decisions, we can support you on this.  (March 2020)

Support offer

  • Half-day session (3 hours), on-site at your council, with planning committee members (including substitutes) and other councillors, if interested
  • Involvement of a councillor peer, if appropriate
  • Minimum 10 attendees (to make this event really work)


  • Improved decision making to deliver the Council's planning objectives, in line with policies
  • Safeguarding the reputation of the council as a responsible decision maker
  • Strengthening the processes and justification for making the decisions
  • Reducing vulnerability  on appeal
  • Minimising the chance of cost awards.

Following the session PAS will prepare a short report of discussions, recommendations and actions agreed.

If you are interested in this support, please contact PAS:


Proposed content

10 mins


Purpose and objectives

60 mins

Making decisions: presentation and discussions

  • Councillors role in deciding planning applications
  • Constraints on planning decisions & planning councillors. Localism v presumption in favour. Discussion on material considerations, working between councillors and officers on planning matters, and how your planning committee runs
  • Public lobbying and the presumption in favour
  • Avoiding unreasonable behaviour when being heavily lobbied (and costs awards)

View the presentation here (or below this table):


10 mins Details of LPA local appeal(s) : LPA officer presentation
60 mins

Review of appeal case(s) issues raised : facilitated discussion

  • Exploration of decisions and repercussions
  • Decisions - options and implications
  • Managing the process – committee practice 
20 mins

Summary, conclusions and recommendations : next steps

Facilitated discussions


View this presentation in slideshare: