Property industry welcomes arrival of specialist planning court

The British Property Federation (BPF) has today welcomed proposals for a specialist planning court which will fast track disputed major planning applications and ensure swift delivery of important infrastructure and development projects.

The new planning court, part of proposals announced today by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling as part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, will employ specialist judges to deal with disputed schemes, who will work to fixed time limits.

The announcements are good news for the property industry, which has expressed its dissatisfaction with the judicial review system in the past, as it allowed numerous challenges to be made and caused lengthy delays in the planning process.

Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation, commented:

“The judicial review system over the last few years has been inefficient and counterproductive, with far too many cases being referred. The result has been stalled development and long periods of uncertainty at a time when we need it the least.

“We were pleased when the government introduced reforms to the judicial review system in May last year, and are further encouraged to see that it has listened to the concerns of the property industry and heeded our calls for a specialist planning chamber. 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.”

Adrian Penfold, Head of Planning and Corporate Responsibility, British Land, added:

“The arrival of a specialist planning chamber is welcome news as it will allow cases that genuinely merit judicial review to be considered by experts in a timely and efficient manner. The judicial review system is important, and the creation of this new chamber is a significant step in ensuring that it is not abused and that it serves its correct purpose.”

Simon Ricketts, Partner, King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, said:

“Dealing with planning litigation well is important not just to the individual litigants but to the wider economy. A specialist planning court has great potential to reduce further the delays and uncertainties caused by challenges to planning decisions, building on recent welcome improvements, and to ensure better access to judges with appropriate experience of what has become an exceptionally complex area of law.”

Craig Tabb, Partner, DP9, said:

“A specialist court focused on the processing of major development cases is a very positive step. For too long the judicial review system has worked counter to Government aims of delivering new homes, realising important regeneration and encouraging economic growth. The Government’s proposals ought to mean a more predictable and less risky process, therefore, creating a better basis for speeding up development and investment.”