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Government moots specialist 'planning court'

The government has proposed introducing a new specialist planning court in an attempt to speed up major construction projects

The proposals have been designed to speed up the judicial review process and could also see a limit placed on who is able to apply for a judicial review. A move which could mean campaign groups can no longer use the process to block building projects.

The new planning chamber is one of a package of proposals designed to speed up the judicial review process and drive out cases which clog up courts and slow the progress of applications.

The changes would see judicial review decisions relating to major developments taken only by expert judges, which the government claims would speed up the process.

Developers have previously raised concern that lengthy legal delays to projects have forced them into financial difficulty and have caused some schemes to collapse completely.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘These proposals will ensure legal challenges are heard swiftly, so crucial new building projects no longer fall by the wayside because of needless delays.

‘We want to make sure judicial review continues its crucial role in holding authorities and others to account, but also that it is used for the right reasons and is not abused by people to cause vexatious delays or to generate publicity for themselves at the expense of ordinary tax-payers.’

The proposed planning court has been welcomed by the British Property Federation. Liz Peace, chief executive said: ‘A specialist planning court is something we’ve repeatedly made the case for over many years, and this simple measure should have a real impact on not only the speed of decisions, but the quality too. Having greater numbers of expert judges that understand planning is a huge step forward for the development community.’

However some critics have raised concern that the changes could limit local people from having a say in development.

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