Rights : Community : Action (RCA) has today taken some big steps forward in its claim for Judicial Review of the government’s radical reforms to the planning system.
Justice Holgate has directed that RCA’s claim for Judicial Review will be heard on 14-15 October 2020 over the course of one day as a “rolled up” hearing. The case will not be heard before the usual single judge, but before a Divisional Court of at least two judges: a decision no doubt reflecting the importance of the issues raised. The judge’s order is encouraging, because the Court has not exercised its powers to stop a claim in its tracks and instead has seen fit to secure an early hearing for this important claim.
RCA has been awarded the costs protection that is awarded for important environmental cases, meaning its risk to paying huge sums in costs if it loses is limited. RCA now has the conditions in place which it needs as a small and new organisation to pursue its Judicial Review.
In the circumstances, RCA has decided not to pursue its application for interim relief which would have suspended the new planning laws while the claim proceeds. RCA’s claim will proceed on all the grounds challenging:
- the government’s failure to undertake environmental or equalities assessments
- its failure to properly consult before making the rules.
The rules have also been prayed against in Parliament and will now be subject to debate, though unusually the government sought to ensure they take effect before the debate is held. However this challenge to the new planning rules has the potential to overrule the new ‘statutory instruments’ bringing them into effect- which carries huge implications for planning and development across the country.