Planning applications can often be controversial, especially nowadays when there is so much pressure on green belt. Once a planning application is granted, a developer cannot just start on site immediately, they will usually be concerned that a Judicial Review may be started. If these are successful then the planning permission is quashed and the application process has to start all over again. This can delay the proposed development by many months or stop it altogether. Objectors have six weeks after the granting of a planning permission to lodge such an objection. In order to do so they must allege that an important part of the procedure involved in the planning process has not been followed correctly; they cannot just continue to raise their objections based on the merits of the application.

What can be done if an aggrieved party is dissatisfied with the grant of a planning application? Most applications for judicial review end in failure for the objector, but an interesting court decision has recently taken place in the Court of Appeal case of Forest of Dean District Council and Resilient Energy Serverndale Ltd. v. Peter Right. A local authority had supported an application for a wind farm on the basis that the operator of the wind farm would plough four per cent of the turnover back into the local community. An objector commenced Judicial Review proceedings on the basis that the promise of money to the local community was not a material planning consideration. The local authority and the developer argued that the donation was a material consideration because, although it was an "off-site" benefit, it had a planning purpose and a real connection with the turbine. The High Court and the Court of Appeal did not agree, stating that for a consideration to be material, it had to have a planning purpose and had to relate fairly and reasonably to the proposed development.

The planning permission was quashed.

The planning application process can be a long and tortuous affair and Judicial Reviews can make it even more difficult for developers.

- David Marsden is a Partner at award-winning Watford based law firm VWV