Bridget Rosewell has been appointed chair of the independent review into planning appeal inquiries by housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire.
He said the review would seek ways for Planning Inspectorate inquires to reach more rapid decisions.
Inquiries are normally only held in the largest and most contentious cases, with other disputed applications decided by planning inspectors.
In 2017-18, appeal inquiries took an average of 44 weeks to complete, the government said.
Though they made up only 2% of the 15,472 planning appeals decided they involved decisions on 20,000 of the 30,000 homes granted permission by the Planning Inspectorate through its appeals process.
Ms Rosewell, a member of the National Infrastructure Commission, is due to recommend reforms by the end of the year.
Mr Brokenshire said: “We have been clear that the appeals process must work for both local communities and those taking forward housing schemes, and that involves swift and fair decisions being made to deliver the homes our communities need.”