The Court of Session in Dawn Developments v South Lanarkshire Council has held that a local planning authority's decision not to hear competing planning applications together does not amount to procedural unfairness.
The case concerned a judicial review by Dawn Developments ("Dawn") of a decision by South Lanarkshire Council ("the Council") to grant planning permission to a rival developer's application (by JHAG Ltd). Dawn challenged the Council's decision on several grounds.
One of the grounds related to issues of procedural unfairness in determining the rival application of JHAG Ltd at the expense of Dawn's application. Part of this ground concerned Dawn's attempts to interdict the Council from meeting to approve the rival application in October 2010. Dawn argued that, because both applications were in competition with one another, they ought to be considered together and determined together by the Council.
However, interim interdict was refused: there is no legal or policy requirement requiring the Council to determine both applications together. The decision to conjoin applications is a matter of planning judgement, and not one for the courts. In any event, there were issues with Dawn's application which meant it may not have been in a position to go to Committee.
In taking the past and present challenges together, the Court held that Dawn had suffered no procedural unfairness as a result. Dawn's judicial review challenge was refused.
The decision follows earlier cases which stress that the courts will not intervene in matters of planning judgement, and they will not provide a remedy in matters of perceived unfairness which are all part and parcel of the the planning application process.