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Government to curb planning review rights

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The government has announced radical plans to limit residents’ rights to challenge planning decisions

Prime minister David Cameron announced the fresh judicial reviews shakeup in a speech to the CBI today (19 November). He said the move put the public sector on a ‘war footing’ for growth.

Arguing that many judicial reviews were ‘completely pointless’, the coalition claimed the number of applications had tripled since 1998.

‘Last year, an application was around five times more likely to be refused than granted,’ Cameron said. ‘We urgently needed to get a grip on this.’

Proposed reforms included reducing the three-month time limit on applying for reviews and increasing the cost of applications. Applicants will also only be allowed to appeal twice instead of four times.

Cameron also announced plans for minister to be able to decide the length of consultations on policy changes.

The announcement comes after an investigation by the AJ revealed housing experts believed the government’s Localism agenda was stifling growth and confusing an already murky planning process.

The move has already been criticised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England which called for a third party right to appeal two year’s ago, arguing the existing system priced local people out of the review process.

The Civic Voice urged the government to rethink the proposals. A spokesperson said: ‘This Government came to power promising Localism and a society where we all have a voice and can make a difference. Now though, what we are seeing is a Government that seems to think people are the problem.

‘In our experience, people are not against development, what people are against is not being listened to and not having a voice. These further proposals will further alienate people and once again, we would urge the Government to think again.’

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: ‘Access to justice is a vital ingredient of the rule of law in this country, but if the process can be sensibly expedited, this should be welcomed.

‘Planning cases make up a very small number of the total judicial review cases, but by speeding up the process it would deliver significant benefits in terms of enabling economic activity to take place more quickly, by reducing investors’ costs and the risks that discourage investment.

‘A less talked about, but equally important impact, is the cost to local planning authorities and hence the tax payer.  They have to spend significant resources in defending each claim, resources which it is increasingly unable to recover, even where the claim fails.

‘Another consideration for the Government is the insufficient number of judges with planning knowledge or experience. Even a few dedicated planning judges would go a long way to speeding up the process for planning cases.’

 

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