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Your role

While you may feel intimidated at the prospect of appearing at an inquiry, especially if you've never done so before, don't let this be a hindrance.

Dozens of CPRE volunteers have successfully appeared at inquiries, and you can too.

The best thing you can do, if you want your case to succeed, is to be as well prepared as possible.

Remember that it is your right to speak out and that the inquiry is designed to help you do this.You can contact CPRE branches for help.

Points to remember

  • If you represent a body of local opinion, choose the person who is most familiar with the case to present it
  • Always remember that the inspector, as the person who makes the final decision, is the most important person at an inquiry
  • Be sensitive to his or her reaction to the proceedings and focus on persuading him or her
  • Etiquette is important at public inquiries, but don't let rules and procedures inhibit you when you present your case
  • Be prepared to suggest alternative uses for the site. This is a common question
  • Do not save points for cross-examination as you may not get a chance to use them

Dealing with lawyers

  • Do not be intimidated if a lawyer representing another party is aggressive in cross-examining you
  • Stay calm and polite
  • If you are having trouble explaining your case, ask the inspector for assistance
  • If a lawyer confuses you, refer him or her to your answers in your proof of evidence. All your arguments should be summarised there.

Generally speaking, the tougher the cross-examination you are facing, the more seriously you are being taken, so keep your nerve.

Lay advocates

If you are using a 'lay' advocate, or non-professional, to present your case, make sure he or she is

  • Familiar with the material. It sounds obvious, but it will be too late on the day if there's a problem
  • Calls witnesses in an order that helps to make sense of your arguments
  • Plans any supplementary questions, and deals with additional points that witnesses may want to add
  • Waits until the inspector has finished before asking another question
  • Prepares cross-examinations from other parties' proofs of evidence
  • Doesn't ask questions that have already been asked
  • Attends as much of the inquiry as possible

List of conditions

At some point during the proceedings, the inspector will ask all parties involved for a list of conditions that they would want imposed on the planning application, if permission were granted.

This does not necessarily mean permission will be granted. Have ready a clear, precise list of conditions you would like to see imposed.

Closing statement

All parties are given an opportunity to make a closing statement at the end of the inquiry. Use the following tips to make as strong a case to the inspector as possible

  • Make a note of the points you may want to make as the inquiry progresses
  • If necessary, ask for a 10-15 minute adjournment to prepare your speech
  • Do not simply repeat everything you said in your evidence
  • Deal with new points that have emerged in the course of the appeal
  • Highlight key points and add any supplementary points that have emerged from other submissions
  • Summarise your case concisely, in your own words
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