Planning Appeal Search Tips

You have our powerful search tool at your fingertips and with skilled searching you can find anything. Here are some useful tips:

  1. Not sure what text to search for? Try "appeal" and narrow down using filters like a particular Inspector/ Date/ Local Authority/ etc.
  2. Put in a date range. Simply select the date box and put in your chosen dates. Otherwise the default is the last 5 years.
  3. Zero results? Check your date range. We have 99.9% of all appeals from early 2010.
  4. The search looks throughout the Decision Notice - the headers, the text, the Inspector's reasoning, comments, planning conditions, footnotes, everything.
  5. Searches for an appeal reference number will also find appeals which cross-refer to it in their footnotes.
  6. To find precise phrases, use double inverted commas. For example, "80 dwellings" finds exactly 80 dwellings. With no inverted commas you'll get appeals containing both words, like '2 dwellings as per policy 80'. (For flexibility around phrases see Advanced Searching below.)
  7. Consider variations like "brownfield land" instead of "previously developed land".
  8. Longer phrases can help narrow the search, for example "conflicts with the development plan when read as a whole" will find appeals with that exact phrase.
  9. Sometimes it can be helpful to search for negatives, for example "no cycle provision" and "not enough space".
  10. To exclude documents containing a particular word, use the minus sign (-) for example "wind farm" -offshore will find windfarms, but exclude documents containing the word "offshore". 
  11. If it matters to you which version of the NPPF was applicable, set your date range accordingly. The various NPPF updates occured on 24 July 2018, 19 February 2019, 20 July 2021, 5 September 2023 and 19 December 2023.
  12. Where an appeal planning officer has assisted an Inspector, these are indexed under the Inspector's name. To find appeals by a named appeal planning officer, put their name into the Keyword search rather than into the Inspector search.
  13. Our mapping software displays all appeals that have a postcode. The few that do not have a postcode entered by PINS cannot be displayed on the map. Advice on searches using the Appeals Map can be found on our blog here.

  14. See the FAQs section 2 for Appeal Searching FAQs such as finding Welsh appeals, former LPAs, etc. See FAQs section 3 for Website Navigation FAQs for links to useful government data.

Advanced Searching

In June 2024 we upgraded our search functionality, giving you new techniques to fine-tune your intelligent searching.

Special command *

A * acts as a wild card. With the * special character, it is vital to include inverted commas around your search terms.

For example, "presumption against * development" will find 'presumption against sustainable development' and 'presumption against inappropriate development' and 'presumption against the development' and 'presumption against harmful development' etc.

You can use as many * as you like, with each one representing one wild card word. For example, the search "specialist * * housing" finds 'specialist older persons housing' and 'specialist elderly C2 housing' and 'specialist and general housing' and 'specialist forms of housing' etc. When using more than one * it is important to separate each * with a space.

The * represents one word per asterisk and is "exact". For a more flexible search, use one of the special commands below.

Special commands SENTENCE, PARAGRAPH

To find words that occur close together, but not necessarily adjacent, insert the special command SENTENCE or PARAGRAPH (in capital letters) between the words. For example, noise SENTENCE nuisance finds appeals refering to:

 'noise nuisance' or 
'… noise is at such a level as to constitute a statutory nuisance …' or 
'… cause a nuisance to the amenity of neighbours by reason of noise …' etc

Don't use inverted commas around these special commands. For example, "noise SENTENCE nuisance" will return nil results as no Decision Notices include the word "sentence". If your search includes a phrase, for example "sustainable development" instead of nuisance in the above example, then phrase it like so: noise SENTENCE "sustainable development".

Special commands NEAR/x, NOTNEAR/x

To find words NEAR another word, specify the number of words you wish to include. For example, NEAR/3 is a tight search within 3 words, whereas NEAR/10 will search within 10 words. For example, "housing supply" NEAR/5 weight finds this type of result:

… housing, the contribution to housing supply carries positive weight in favour of the …
… attach very little weight to the proposal benefiting housing supply in HDC …
… would further frustrate housing supply. I therefore attach moderate weight to the proposal …

This is useful for popular terms like sustainable NEAR/4 development. For example, this will find:

… site and construction of a sustainable residential development comprising a total of …
… proposal would comprise a sustainable form of development, having particular regard to …
… . In conclusion, the development is in a sustainable location and seeks to …

Don't use inverted commas around the NEAR or NOTNEAR special commands.

Happy hunting!