Last year we took the government to court over its hasty changes to the planning system in England. We lost our claim for Judicial Review, but were given leave to appeal. We now have a court date of 5 October 2021.
At the hearing, the Court will first decide whether we have permission and costs protection, and if we can secure these, the Court will then hear the full appeal. If we are successful, even though the changes have since become law, they would cease to apply.
As a small organisation, we are once again crowdfunding to support our legal costs. If you can help in any way, please consider doing so.
Why the case matters
On 30 June 2020 Boris Johnson announced the most “radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War… [giving] greater freedom for buildings and land in our town centres to change use without planning permission”.
He was right. The government’s changes are radical and will have enormous consequences for the places that we live, the environment, and our right to have a say. The changes were pushed through Parliament in a way that means there was no real opportunity for MPs to scrutinise them.
Our original Judicial Review focused on part of the changes, pushed by Boris Johnson’s former adviser Dominic Cummings, which gave what are called ‘permitted development rights’ (PDR) to developers. These changes have gone ahead, meaning that developers no longer need to apply for permission to demolish commercial buildings and build residential ones. The government’s own research has shown that this can result in “slums” and will have big impacts on the environment. Read more in this Observer expose of what living in these homes can be like.
Worst of all, you don’t get a say on PDR.
The Government has faced a huge backlash from across society and from many of its own MPs about its planning changes, of which PDR was the vanguard. The Secretary of State newly responsible, Michael Gove, is thought to be pausing the plans for a rethink.
This only underlines why we were right to bring the original case against these dangerous and unpopular changes, and why we are right to keep on fighting it.
We are continuing to challenge the Government on the way they have made these changes to development decisions – by taking them out of the planning application system to making them ‘permitted development’. We don’t think they have followed the right process in making these changes law.
Beforehand, such decisions would have needed a planning application which would be decided in line with a local plan, which has to be assessed for its environmental impacts.
Our grounds are that the changes take an unknown number of developments out of this existing system, and puts them into a new system, without working out what environmental impacts this could cause.