A new planning court will be launched in the summer to fast-track disputes over major developments through the legal system.
The UK government estimates that some 400 planning cases a year will be resolved more quickly with specialist judges, freeing up the main administrative court.
Peter Vaughan, London-based Director at global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan, the practice that designed London’s tallest residential building ‘The Tower, One St George Wharf’, which has just completed on the bank of the River Thames, said:
“There are parts of the world where ‘planning consent’ can be achieved with a slick cgi but fortunately in the UK we have a thing called due process.
“Members of the public have a right to comment, be heard and for their views to be taken into account.
“The truth is, however, that due process can be excessively slow, cumbersome and costly, with approved schemes challenged on a point of law.
“As a consequence, costly judicial reviews can take years, with major development projects both within and on the edge of urban areas increasingly susceptible to legal challenge, by both competing developers and better informed and organised interest groups.
“While the reduction in the ‘challenge period’ introduced last year was beneficial, major delays in the judicial process still result in significant periods of uncertainty for the public, local planning authorities and developer – of benefit to no one.
“Within the context of promoting a growth in development and a simplification of planning as advocated in the National Planning Policy Framework, the judicial process needs to keep up.
“A new, dedicated court of specialist judges focused on fast-tracking judicial reviews will be able to see past smoke, mirrors and noise and, when an approved scheme is challenged, expedite the judicial process in a more professional and equitable manner.
“The generality of opinion can be extremely illuminating; however, when schemes which have already been approved are challenged, the new planning court should be in place to progress the process within a reasonable time frame and at reasonable cost.
“The dedicated court will be of benefit to all parties, regardless of which side of the line they stand on, and it shouldn’t frustrate any party with the appropriate credentials and an ability to present its case coherently.”
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