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Judicial Review in relation to planning permissions has changed.

Importantly, if a planning permission is granted on or after the 1 July 2013, the time period in which to submit a judicial review application has been made shorter.

Prior to the changes, an application had to be made ‘promptly’ and in any event not later than 3 months from the date of the permission. The changes mean in relation to a planning permission granted on or after 1 July, an application now has to be made within 6 weeks of the permission date. For decisions prior to that date, the old 3 month period still applies.

The Government changed the system because they viewed the old process too bureaucratic, slow and believed an increase in challenges has stifled economic growth. Their thinking is  – less time means less challenges. Some commentators have pointed out that there is little evidence on whether there has been an increase in such challenges over the last 5 years. Nevertheless, the changes are now in force.

Given challengers have less time to make an application, the ‘Pre Action Protocol’ is to be disapplied. This was a process under the old regime whereby the challenger had to write to the decision maker setting out their case in advance of commencing court proceedings. It was designed to promote settlement where one party could show a strong case. Instead, challengers now have to move straight to formal proceedings unless they can decide a satisfactory course of action between themselves very early doors given the 6 week window.

The reduced timeframe is highly unlikely to have any impact on genuine cases with strong grounds of challenge. It remains to be seen whether less time means there will be more knee-jerk reaction challenges. Will potential challengers with less time to mull things over launch challenges just to protect their position time wise?

On the positive side for landowners and developers, they will now know more quickly whether or not a planning permission is to be challenged. This is clearly a positive to those waiting for the expiry of the challenge period before going on site or before a contract becomes unconditional.

We’d welcome your views on the changes.

More information can be obtained from Mark Iveson

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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.