§ The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill)
On 15 January,Official Report, columns 43–44WS, I announced our intention, following a review, to consult on proposals to amend the planning appeals procedures rules and regulations to allow third parties a further opportunity to comment on the main parties' appeal statements at the nine-week stage of an appeal. This would bring the opportunities for third parties to 9WS comment in line with the opportunities that local planning authorities and appellants have to make representations.
We received an overwhelmingly positive response to the proposals. We therefore intend to amend the relevant planning appeals procedures to allow third parties an additional opportunity to make representations on appeals at the nine-week stage as well as the six-week stage. The consultation document, however, made clear that the proposed change to the arrangements would only come into affect once the planning casework system (PCS) was operational. The PCS will facilitate electronic appeals and thus the availability of all appeal documents for inspection online/electronically. I now expect this to be in place by March 2005 and we will amend the appeals procedures at that point.