Judicial review of planning and other decisions

The only way to challenge a decision to grant planning permission or a refusal of planning permission at appeal (or indeed a number of other decisions by public bodies) Is to ‘judicially review’ the decision in Courts.

The scope of any judicial review is limited to challenges to the legality of the impugned decision only. The Court will not substitute its own views on the relative planning merits of any planning application.

By way of example, our team members have successfully judicially reviewed planning decisions, where the LPA has:

  • failed to properly apply relevant Local Plan or national planning policies
  • failed to take into account important material considerations
  • failed to discharge its statutory duties, such as its duties in respect of listed buildings and conservation areas, its environmental duties, and its duties to provide reasons for its decisions
  • acted unlawfully in some other way

A range of other local authority decisions (e.g. a decision to use compulsory purchase powers, or to appropriate land) are also amenable to judicial review (JR). We have experience of successfully advising on judicial reviews in this wider context.

Most planning judicial reviews fall within the scope of the Aarhus Convention, and as a result, a claimant will benefit from costs protection in the event of an unsuccessful claim.

All judicial reviews for planning cases require Court permission and the application must be made within six weeks of the date of the planning permission or planning appeal decision (a three-month deadline applies in many other cases). Our experience is that where permission is granted, and particularly if the case is relatively strong, an LPA will often consent to judgment rather than run the risk of losing the case and having to pay the Claimant’s costs.

If the judicial review is successful, then the original decision is quashed. In the case of a quashed planning permission, that will normally mean that the planning application is redetermined by the LPA (or planning inspectorate if an appeal decision is quashed).

Unfortunately, particularly where the JR is successful on an essentially ‘technical’ point, there is no guarantee that a redetermination will result in (from the claimant’s perspective) a better decision. However, part of our role is to advise you on how, following a successful judicial review, you can secure a better outcome when the matter is redetermined.