Grayling announces new Planning Court for major developments

Out-Law News | 06 Feb 2014 | 2:09 pm | 1 min. read

An estimated 400 planning cases per year will be fast-tracked for hearings by specialist judges in a new Planning Court under plans announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday. 

The plans, which are part of a wider reform to the judicial review system, are aimed at reducing "unnecessary and costly legal delays" to major building projects. They follow a consultation held by the Ministry of Justice in the autumn last year.

Mike Pocock, planning expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the establishment of a specialist planning court would be welcomed by the development industry and could see "significant improvements" in the speed and efficiency of planning claims in relation to development projects. 

Pocock said that reforms to transfer some of the financial risks to the individuals or campaign groups making a claim, will have "widespread implications to those looking to make a planning claim against development projects".

The announcements were also welcomed by the British Property Federation (BPF). "The judicial review system over the past few years has been inefficient and counterproductive, with far too many cases being referred," said chief executive Liz Peace in a statement. "The result has been stalled development and long periods of uncertainty at a time when we need it the least."

“The introduction of a specialist court like this is likely to have a significant impact on delivery as it relieves the pressure on developers and planning authorities and will expedite the whole planning process,” Peace added.

The Government expects the new Planning Court to be set up by the summer. It will remain within the High Court rather than a separate Planning Chamber in the Upper Tribunal as originally proposed.