Does a wrong name make a planning appeal invalid?

Locals are unhappy with a housing development in our area: Can we argue an inconsistency in the planning application makes it INVALID?

  • Is planning permission invalid if there are inconsistencies on the applications?
  • To what extent must full titles match when it comes to planning applications? 
  • We speak to a legal expert for his views on whether planning permission is valid 

Plans for a new local housing development near me have been approved on appeal, but they fail to incorporate the many concerns of local residents. 

The planning application was made on behalf of Wiltshire police by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon. 

Some of us have taken a closer look at the application and found an inconsistency with the names used during the process. 

Is a planning application and appeal valid if the names don’t match?

We find out if planning permission is invalid if there are inconsistencies on the applications

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: The country desperately needs more housing, but it is important that this is not done at any cost. 

This includes not squeezing as many homes into a site as quickly as possible without taking into account the local environment and the existing pressures it is under.

Britain needs more well-built homes that will last for generations to come and improve residents’ lives. This can only be achieved if applications are carefully considered and not rushed through. 

There seems to be a suggestion that this was not done here, as there appears to be inconsistencies on the applications. But is a slightly different name really enough to torpedo a development?

We speak to a legal expert about whether your findings invalidate the planning permission that has been granted.

Stephen Gold, ex-judge and author, explains: The person who was after planning permission is called The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, which must be irritating when he applies for credit cards or signs Christmas cards and runs out of space. 

As Swindon is in Wiltshire, you might well ask why both the county and the town have to figure. The reason is that they have separate unitary authorities.

The full title was inserted into the original planning application form. 

When Wiltshire Council issued notice of its refusal of the application, it left out reference to Swindon when describing the applicant.

What’s in a name? Reply from the PCC 

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office for Wiltshire and Swindon was contacted for a response about the names on the applications.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner said: ‘All guidance and rules were followed during the Wiltshire Council planning application and the subsequent Planning Inspectorate appeal process.’ 

They explained that all estates (such as buildings) and assets (such as land) used by Wiltshire Police come under the responsibility of the PCC as Corporation Sole. 

‘Wiltshire Police maintains operational management of the estates and provides operational advice to the PCC on estate need and workforce planning,’ it said.

It went on to explain what a corporation sole is.

It said: ‘A corporation sole a is a legal entity in which one person and his or her subsequent successors are granted the lawful status of a corporation. In PCC’s case (through election of a PCC). A corporation sole functions as a sort of sole proprietorship, with no legal partners, board of directors, or stockholders.’

Given that the site for which planning permission was being sought was outside the borough of Swindon, I am sure that the Commissioner would not have sent round the chief constable to complain about the omission, although he would have been aggrieved at the refusal. 

Wiltshire Council got all other details correct, including the application number, and the site for which planning permission was being sought. 

The precise description of the unsuccessful applicant was not a material part of the document. It would have been obvious to a visitor from Mars that this refusal related to the Commissioner’s application.

I am satisfied that the refusal notice was valid and it was open to the Commissioner to put in an appeal on the basis of it. 

And that is precisely what he did, through his chief executive officer. The appeal application form adopted the same shortened description of the Commissioner as Wiltshire Council had done in the refusal notice: no reference to poor Swindon. 

The appeal was accepted by the Planning Inspectorate and, indeed, led to a victory for the Commissioner with planning permission being granted.

Only the person who applied for planning permission can appeal against refusal of the application. Their identity must be identical, and it is evident that the Planning Inspectorate was satisfied that The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wilshire was one and the same person as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Salisbury. 

In so far as it might have thought that the shortened description was irregular, it must be taken to have waived the irregularity and treated the original applicant as the appellant, because the appeal decision records the appeal as having been made by The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Salisbury.

In my opinion, the shortened description was non-material, has not led to any justified confusion or prejudice and does not invalidate the planning permission that has been granted.

Stephen Gold is an ex-judge and author of ‘The Return of Breaking Law’ published by Bath Publishing. For more on service charges, go to 

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