Mon, 07 Apr 2014
Ian Dove QC and James Corbet Burcher will today appear before Mr Justice Lindblom in the first case to be heard in the Planning Court: R(Jones) v English Heritage (CO/1932/2013).
R(Jones) v English Heritage
The factual background to this judicial review claim appropriately begins in 1066, with the Battle of Fulford, the first of three battles (with Stamford Bridge and Hastings) that formed a major turning point in British Medieval history.
Ian and James (instructed by Lisa Foster of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law) represent battlefield archaeologist, Chas Jones, in the renewal of his application for permission to challenge English Heritage’s refusal to designate a site known as Germany Beck, in Fulford, just south of York.
There is a planning permission for a large-scale residential housing development covering an area of 34 hectares, which has itself been the subject of separate proceedings.
Covering the interaction between heritage protection and the planning system, the case augurs well for a broad approach to the definition of a “Planning Court claim” as a judicial review or statutory challenge involving (i) planning permission, … and (ix) any other matter the judge appointed under rule 54.22(2) considers appropriate (CPR, r. 54.21).”
The Planning Court
Planning Court claims will take the form of a specialist list, within the High Court, presided over by a Planning Liaison Judge: Mr Justice Lindblom.
At present, the innovations (under the Civil Procedure (Amendment No. 3) Rules 2014, introducing CPR, rr. 54.21-24 and Practice Direction 54E), largely cover timetabling, formalising and expanding the current Planning Fast Track.
The definition of “Planning court claims” is deliberately broad: under CPR 54.21, r. (2) a judicial review or statutory challenge which –
(a) involves any of the following matters —
(i) planning permission, other development consents, the enforcement of planning control and the enforcement of other statutory schemes;
(ii) applications under the Transport and Works Act 1992;
(iv) highways and other rights of way;
(v) compulsory purchase orders;
(vi) village greens;
(vii) European Union environmental legislation and domestic transpositions, including assessments for development consents, habitats, waste and pollution control;
(viii) national, regional or other planning policy documents, statutory or otherwise;
(ix) any other matter the judge appointed under rule 54.22(2); and
(b) has been issued or transferred to the Planning Court.
Under Practice Direction 54E, specific timetables will apply to “significant” claims defined as those which—
a) relate to commercial, residential, or other developments which have significant economic impact either at a local level or beyond their immediate locality;
b) raise important points of law;
c) generate significant public interest; or
d) by virtue of the volume or nature of technical material, are best dealt with by judges with significant experience of handling such matters.
The timetables are as follows:
a) applications for permission to apply for judicial review are to be determined within three weeks of the expiry of the time limit for filing of the acknowledgment of service;
b) oral renewals of applications for permission to apply for judicial review are to be heard within one month of receipt of request for renewal;
c) applications for permission under section 289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 are to be determined within one month of issue;
d) substantive statutory applications, including applications under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, are to be heard within six months of issue; and
e) judicial reviews are to be heard within ten weeks of the expiry of the period for the submission of detailed grounds by the defendant or any other party as provided in Rule 54.14.
The introduction of the Planning Court represents the culmination of a number of years of research and discussion within the planning and environmental law sector, including the Ministry of Justice’s Consultations: “Judicial Review: proposals for reform” (December 2012), “Judicial Review: Proposals for Further Reform” (September 2013) and finally its announcement in February 2014 (Cm 8811).
Further reform is currently proposed under the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, notably Part 4, clauses 52 to 59, and if enacted, could lead to further CPR amendments.
In due course, the benefits of a specialist list will likely extend far beyond quicker decision-making: affirming planning case law as a distinct area within public/administrative law, closely informed by broader public law principles and procedure but astute to the economic, social and environmental complexities of the subject matter.
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