New Planning Court signals its intent

01 Jan 2018

Planning and Environment

. The claim had been issued in early March and was transferred to the Planning Court in early April. Significantly, in refusing permission, Mr. Justice Mitting certified Harrier’s claim as being ‘totally without merit’ under the new CPR 54.12(7), thereby preventing Harrier from seeking a reconsideration of the decision at an oral permission hearing.

Harrier had sought, but failed, to obtain planning permission for a major foodstore on a site adjacent to that promoted by Sainsbury’s. Its claim for judicial review of Sainsbury’s consent was issued on 3 March 2014 and challenged the Council’s consideration of retail impact, highways, and related third party ownership issues. Having been transferred to the Planning Court in early April, the claim was categorised as ‘significant’ at the end of April, committing the Court to the target timescale of determining the application for permission within 3 weeks of Acknowledgments of Service (Practice Direction 54E, para. 3.4).

In refusing permission, Mr. Justice Mitting noted that despite the length and erudition of the Grounds, there was nothing of merit in them. This was a classic case for the exercise of judgment by the Committee and Head of Planning and there were good reasons for the decisions reached. Hence the application was totally without merit (see decision here). The efficiency and robustness with which permission was dealt with will be welcomed by those familiar with the delays of the Administrative Court when dealing with planning challenges.

James Findlay QC and Asitha Ranatunga represented Fenland District Council.