The government is revisiting the judicial review process, which may help to reduce development delays even further.
Many development contracts are conditional on obtaining satisfactory planning permission and the expiry of the judicial review period. In July 2013, the time limit for making an application for judicial review of a planning permission was reduced to six weeks. This change is already reducing the time period between exchange and completion of conditional contracts.
However, the government has recently consulted on further reforms to prevent delays to development caused by judicial review proceedings being used as a delaying tactic. The proposals for the new reforms include the following:
the introduction of a specialist 'planning court' for all cases relating to planning judicial review proceedings. Such cases would only be heard by expert judges, in the hope that this would speed up the overall process
reducing the number of people with the 'standing' to bring cases, by only allowing judicial review proceedings to be instigated by people who are directly affected by the planning decision, rather than, for example, general members of the public, charities or non-governmental organisations
allowing the courts to have greater powers to dismiss applications based on procedural matters, which would have made no difference to the outcome of the granting of the planning permission, and
if a judicial review application is unsuccessful, the applicant should have an increased obligation to bear some of the costs.
The consultation period closed on 1 November 2013 and we are awaiting the outcome of the process. If the reforms are made, this can only be good news for developers in reducing the potential risk of delays to development.
For more information please contact Mark Smith, Partner