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In the current economic climate it is difficult enough to bring development forward without the risk of a decision that has taken months to achieve then being challenged by a Judicial Review application. Recently the period within which a Judicial Review had to be lodged was reduced to 6 weeks from the date of the decision, but this still remains a risk for any planning consent.
The purpose of the further consultation was to consider a number of significant changes to the current procedures and practices, with the aim of restricting the number of Judicial Reviews that are granted permission to proceed. In 2011, out of 11,360 applications lodged, 163 resulted in a success for the claimant.
The proposals includes :
- The creation of a specialist Land and Planning chamber to consider and expedite applications relating to development;
- The prevention of frivolous or vexatious actions by the introduction of a permission stage into statutory challenges that are made against an Inspector's or the Secretary of State's decision;
- Safeguards to prevent those without a real and legitimate interest in matters from launching a Judicial Review action; and
- If an action is brought purely on a procedural defect that could be easily remedied, these applications may be dismissed before the matter is given permission to proceed to a hearing.
The consultation process is now closed, and we await the Government's final response with interest as it could provide further ways to ensure that development happens and is not frustrated. However,even though the change, if implemented, will be welcomed by planners, landowners and developers who have been increasingly frustrated by Judicial Review applications, there remains resolute hostility to any works that might make challengesto decisions more difficult.