The British Property Federation (BPF) has welcomed Government proposals to speed up the judicial review process, and expressed particular enthusiasm for proposals to create a dedicated Land and Planning Chamber (LPC) to review planning-related appeals.
The new chamber would see judicial review decisions relating to major developments taken only by expert judges and take advantage of a streamlined process so they are considered as quickly as possible. Developers have complained in the past that lengthy legal delays to projects have forced them into financial difficulty and have caused some schemes to collapse completely.
The BPF also called for applications for judicial review be made no later than six weeks after any resolution to grant planning permission, to help lessen what are often substantial time lags between the LPA’s resolution to grant and the grant of planning permission itself. If Government wanted to further speed up the system, it could:
- Review opportunities for judicial review in the planning process, to ensure that LPAs do not need excess information, requiring valuable time and resources, for fear of potential claims;
- Relax procedural requirements, or convert some to “good practice,” so that they cease to be triggers for judicial review;
- Reinvigorate attempts to more formally introduce and encourage mediation in the planning process;
- Monitor and publish judicial review statistics;
- Impose time limits on the process of alternative dispute resolution to prevent its use for delaying projects.
Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the BPF, said:
“Access to justice is a mainstay of the rule of law in this country, but if it can be sensibly sped up and streamlined, this should be welcomed.
“A planning process plagued by expensive and unnecessary delays is 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.”