COVID-19: Planning decision challenge periods - Kuits Solicitors Manchester

COVID-19: Planning decision challenge periods

COVID-19: Planning decision challenge periods

7th May 2020 - Published by Kuits planning team

There is a six-week limit that applies to all judicial review proceedings relating to a decision to grant or refuse planning permission. This shorter period for challenge was put in place to reduce the number of applications for judicial review to try and decrease the impact on planning authority resources and, crucially for our clients, the potential delay and uncertainty after the decision is issued.

In this time of considerable uncertainty and delay, it may be possible that the courts will be more lenient with this six-week window and allow an extension of time for claims to be made.

At the start of the lockdown, it was thought that claims may languish in unread Planning Court email inboxes where staff are absent, resulting in developers finding out about challenges after the six-week period has passed. As time moves on, it is possible that claimants will try to argue that the Courts should allow a late submission because of the impact of COVID-19 on commercial or personal resources, such as ill-health or care-giving duties.

Whilst it cannot be known if these claims will be successful, there may be more leniency than usual when the Court considers using its discretion to allow a claim made out of time. This relaxation has an impact on any real estate contracts, which become unconditional six weeks after the planning permission is issued in the event that there are no judicial review proceedings in progress at the expiry of that six-week period.

Although various planning regulations have been brought into force to assist planning authorities facing delays to their decision making, there have been no changes to the procedures in the Planning Courts and the six-week judicial review period for planning matters still applies.

COVID-19 should not be relied upon as a reason to delay to issuing a claim, but developers, tenants and landlords should consider this possibility when entering into contracts that include a six-week judicial review period from the grant of planning permission. Either indemnity insurance or an extension of this time period in the contract should be considered whilst lockdown and its wide-reaching effects continue.

To speak to a planning expert about the issues raised in this article, call Victoria Leam on 0161 503 2998 or email victorialeam@kuits.com.

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