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Campaign group, Rights:
, believes the way that radical changes to
planning law in England are being made is unlawful.
Naomi Luhde-Thompson for Rights: Community: Action,
"The PM admits that these are the biggest Planning
Reforms since the Second World War, yet they're being rushed
through with scant regard for previous consultation and in a period
which excludes the input of MPs.
"The Reforms were laid before Parliament the day before
the summer recess and come into force on August 31; that's the
day before Parliament reconvenes. Our aim is to halt them to
allow for a proper, reasonable and measured consultation.
"We believe these changes will have a phenomenally
negative impact on the people and environment of towns and cities
across England. That's why we feel compelled to act so
Represented by solicitors Leigh Day, the group has applied for
judicial review seeking a declaration that the Statutory
Instruments (SIs) used to bring in the changes are unlawful and an
urgent interim order to stay their coming into effect until its
legal challenge is resolved.
The claim (issued today), follows a pre-action protocol
letter, sent to Secretary of State for Housing and Communities,
Robert Jenrick MP. The letter called for the suspension of the SIs
until a Strategic Environmental Assessment, Impact assessments and
Parliamentary debate can take place. The Secretary of State is yet
to respond substantively to the pre-action letter.
Rights: Community: Action claims that the following changes
allowed under the SIs will be detrimental to the environment:
- A detached building, used for offices or industry, can be
demolished and replaced with flats within the same footprint, but
up to two storeys higher, up to a maximum height of 18 metres.
- New storeys above an existing dwelling-house will be able to be
added without planning permission (permitted development).
- Change of use for several kinds of building will no longer
require planning permission.
Rights: Community: Action says:
- The failure to carry out an environmental assessment of the
SIs, is a breach of Article 3 of the EU Strategic Environmental
Assessment Directive, because the SIs amount to plans or programmes
for the purposes of the Directive.
- The SIs were introduced without an appropriate equality impact
assessment, which is a failure to comply with a Public Sector
Equality Duty under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.
- Mr Jenrick has failed to take account of previous consultation
responses and the advice of his own experts, which according to
established principles, must be "conscientiously taken into
The group's pre-action protocol letter
"The highly negative response of consultees was not given
the conscientious consideration required. Although the Secretary of
State may have been aware of the views submitted in response to the
consultation, he dismissed them without truly weighing up their
merits. In other words, he approached the consultation with a
"The report of the government's Building Better,
Building Beautiful Commission . . . remarked in its final report
that the existing permitted development policy has
'inadvertently permissioned future slums'."
Leigh Day solicitor Tom
Short, who represents the group, said:
"Our client believes that in closing his mind to the
issues raised regarding these proposed reforms, the Secretary of
State adopted an approach which was unfair, inconsistent and
"Rights: Community: Action believes that there has been a
significant breach of the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment
Directive, a failure to comply with Public Sector Equality Duty and
a disregard for matters raised by previous consultation and for
matters that might have been raised by proper Parliamentary
Rights: Community: Action is raising funds for the legal
action through CrowdJustice
Rights: Community: Action is represented in this matter by
barristers Paul Brown QC and Alex Shattock of Landmark Chambers and
solicitors Tom Short and Carol
of Leigh Day.
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