Faster judicial review proposals supported

Planners have supported the government's proposals to speed up the judicial review process, including the creation of a special planning court, but have advised caution on some aspects of the measures.

In September, the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation on its proposals for further reform of the rules and timescales for the judicial review process, which it said had "expanded massively" in recent years.

Among its proposals, was the creation of a dedicated Land and Planning Chamber to review planning-related cases, in addition to its new fast-track system for planning appeals.

Responding to the consultation, which closed on 1 November, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) said it supported the measure, coupled with more efficient case management, but was "strongly opposed" to new restrictions on who could launch judicial review proceedings.

RTPI chief executive Trudi Elliott said that while the government was right to be concerned about the delay judicial reviews could cause to development, and their impact on proper decision making, the bulk of the delay occured once a case has been submitted.

She said: "In respect of planning cases the RTPI believes that the most impact can be achieved through improvements to the operation of the system and the separation of planning and associated cases out from the bulk of primarily immigration cases.

"There is no evidence in the consultation to justify the blanket restriction of some types of claimants. The RTPI strongly opposes the proposal to restrict who is able to bring a judicial review."

Elsewhere, property lobby group the British Property Federation (BPF) said it believed the creation of the new planning chamber as part of a speeded-up system would go some way to dealing with developers’ complaints that lengthy legal delays to projects forced them into financial difficulty and have caused some schemes to collapse completely.

Chief executive Liz Peace said that a planning process "plagued by expensive and unnecessary delays" was wholly counterproductive to the creation of desperately needed jobs and housing.

"Having greater numbers of expert judges that understand planning is a huge step forward for the development community, and the simple measure of establishing a specialist planning court should have a real impact on not only the speed of decisions, but the quality too," she said.

The BPF also called for the window for launching planning-related judicial reviews to be limited to six weeks after a planning decision is made.


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