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Hearing granted in case against changes to planning laws

Campaign group Rights: Community: Action (RCA) has been granted a court hearing after a judge said its case against sweeping changes to planning laws introduced by the Government last year is potentially important.

Posted on 01 June 2021

RCA, represented by law firm, Leigh Day, has applied for permission to appeal a Divisional Court decision refusing an application for judicial review of the changes.

Now Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Stuart-Smith has made an order granting a hearing at which they can make their case for the application for appeal.

In the order, the judge said:

“Despite the clarity of the Divisional Court’s ruling, I consider that this prospective appeal is potentially important.”

The hearing will be held over one day at a date to be set. As the judge said the hearing should be moderately expedited, RCA expects it to be held without delay.

The changes under challenge have made significant changes to the planning regime, allowing the following:

A detached building, used for offices or industry, can be demolished and replaced with flats within the same footprint, but up to two storeys higher, up to a maximum height of 18 metres.
New storeys above an existing dwelling-house can be added without planning permission (permitted development).
Change of use for several kinds of building no longer requires planning permission.

RCA claims that the way in which the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrickmade radical changes to planning law in England last year was unlawful. The changes were made by way of Statutory Instruments (SIs), which RCA are challenging.

RCA is pursuing the appeal on the ground that the Divisional Court erred in concluding that the three statutory instruments were not required to be subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment because they did not set the framework for future development consent of projects, or modify an existing framework for future development consent of projects.

Naomi Luhde-Thompson for Rights: Community: Action, said:

“The Government's changes on permitted development rights in England have attracted criticism across the board, and further changes will only increase the impacts on people, places and the environment. Silencing people's ability to protect the environment without considering the consequences or allowing for consultation undermines public trust.”

Leigh Day solicitor Tom Short said:

“This case concerns sweeping reforms to core aspects of the planning regime that will have significant detrimental environment impacts. Our client firmly believes that the secondary legislation implementing these changes ought properly to be subject to Strategic Environmental Assessment and welcomes the Court of Appeal’s decision to hold a full hearing on this issue.”

Tom Short
Climate change Corporate accountability Environment Human rights Judicial review Planning Wildlife

Tom Short

Tom Short is a senior associate solicitor in the human rights department.

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