Protection of public health has been identified as a key driver in restricting Hot Food Takeaways (HFTs). Currently, over 50% of Local Authorities (LAs) in England implement policies to regulate the opening of new businesses who wish to trade as a HFT. However the monitoring and restricting of HFTs depends upon the extent and successful implementation of those planning policies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that planning application decisions are a contributing factor to the degree of implementation success of HFTs planning policies. Planning policies that aim to restrict the opening of new HFTs in particular areas can be used by local planning officers to reject new planning applications by business owners. However, business owners can appeal against an initially rejected planning application which hopes to change of use of premises to a HFT. Any subsequent decisions with regard to that application are then made by the national Planning Inspectorate. The national Planning Inspectors make individual, subjective, case-by-case decisions which do not follow any pre-defined rules. At present, Planning Inspectors are not required to hold any formal public health-related qualifications and/or experience. There is very little known about their specific role and how this may influence the appeal decision making process.
In order to gauge the success of such policies it becomes necessary to understand the decision making process behind appeals that are upheld or dismissed. It is apparent that staff in LAs, both in public health and planning, would benefit from applied public health research in order for them to collate robust evidence and respond effectively and efficiently to overturn future appeals. This project aims to provide public health officers, policy planners and development control planners with applied public health research knowledge from which they can draw upon to make sound decisions in evaluating evidence to ensure they are successfully equipped to deal with and defend such appeals. Previous research suggests that planners are reluctant and do not feel equipped to get involved in the appeals process (SPHR project).
Findings from a recent government review on planning appeals and recent ongoing work suggests that there is a dearth of evidence surrounding the appeals process and identified that there are a number of non-evidence based factors that can potentially impact on the decision making process (MHCLG, 2019; Lake, Moore, Townshend, 2019, in preparation). This current project intends to build upon this work by further examining appeals data from the Government’s Appeals Casework Portal. Eight case studies (four upheld and four dismissed at appeal) will be conducted.