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Government begins consultation on curbing planning review rights

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The government has started consultation on radical plans to limit residents’ rights to challenge planning decisions

Last month Prime minister David Cameron annnounced a shake-up of the judicial review process, arguing that the number of review applications had tripled since 1998 and were holding back growth.

Launching the consultation, the government said the new measures would ‘tackle the burden placed on stretched public services’ created by the mushrooming judicial review caseload ‘while protecting access to justice and the rule of law.’

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.

Click here to have your say on the proposals.The consultation run until 24 January 2013.

Judicial Review: proposals for reform overview

The engagement exercise seeks views on proposals in three key areas; reducing the time limits for bringing a judicial review relating to procurement or planning, bringing them into line with the appeal timetable which already applies to those cases.

It also seeks views on removing the right to an oral renewal where a judge refuses permission where there has been a prior judicial process, or where the claim was judged to be totally without merit. The right to appeal to the Court of Appeal would be on the papers. Finally, it seeks views on the introduction of a new fee for an oral renewal so that fees charged in Judicial Review proceedings better reflect the costs of providing the service. If the oral renewal is successful, the fee for post permission stages would be waived.

Previous story (AJ 19.11.2012)

Government to curb planning review rights

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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