Legal disputes over major developments will be fast-tracked through a new planning court, the justice secretary Chris Grayling announced today.
The Ministry of Justice said the move will see an estimated 400 planning cases a year dealt with by specialist judges in fast-track hearings, instead of ‘clogging up’ the Administrative Court.
The plans were announced alongside a raft of other measures designed to speed up and reform the judicial review system.
Judicial review applications more than doubled from 4,300 in 2000 to 12,600 in 2012. Of the 440 that went to a final hearing in 2011 only 170 went in favour of the applicant.
For planning cases, the ministry says the average time to resolve an application which went all the way to a final hearing was 370 days in 2011.
The Planning Court will be established this summer.
The ministry said the new court will support the government’s long-term plan for economic recovery by reducing unnecessary and costly legal delays which developers have previously blamed for the collapse of potential major building schemes.
Simon Ricketts, partner at Asian-based international firm King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, said: ‘Dealing with planning litigation well is important not just to the individual litigants but to the wider economy.
‘A specialist planning court has great potential to reduce further the delays and uncertainties caused by challenges to planning decisions, building on recent welcome improvements, and to ensure better access to judges with appropriate experience of what has become an exceptionally complex area of law.'