The Civil Procedure (Amendment No.3) Rules 2014 were laid before Parliament on 14 March and amend the Civil Procedure Rules to establish the new Planning Court.  From 6 April, when the Rules come into force, planning-related judicial reviews and statutory challenges will be dealt with in a specialist list within the Queen's Bench Division.

The Rules define the types of claims to be dealt with by the Planning Court.  The definition is judicial reviews or statutory challenges involving any of the following:

  1. planning permission, other development consents, the enforcement of planning control and the enforcement of other statutory schemes
  2. applications under the Transport and Works Act 1992
  3. wayleaves
  4. highways and other rights of way
  5. compulsory purchase orders
  6. village greens
  7. European Unionenvironmental legislation and domestic transpositions, including assessments    for development consents, habitats, waste and pollution control
  8. national, regional or other planning policy documents, statutory or otherwise or
  9. any other matter appointed by the Planning Liaison Judge and issued or transferred to the Planning Court.

The Planning Liaison Judge will be nominated by the President of the Queen's Bench Division and will be in charge of the Planning Court specialist list.

The Rules are to be supplemented by a new Practice Direction 54E, which will also come into force on 6 April.  The Practice Direction confirms that claims are to be lodged in the Administrative Court Office (in accordance with Practice Direction 54D) and should be marked 'Planning Court'.  Parties must prepare to meet the target timescales set for the hearing of 'significant' Planning Court claims, subject only to the Court's overriding objective of the interests of justice.

A 'significant' claim includes claims which:

  • relate to commercial, residential or other developments which have significant economic impact either at a local level or beyond their immediate locality
  • raise important points of law
  • generate significant public interest or
  • by virtue of the volume or nature of technical material, are best dealt with by judges with significant experience of handling such matters.

The target timescales for 'significant' claims are as follows:

  • applications for permission to apply for judicial review: to be determined within 3 weeks of expiry of the time limit for filing the acknowledgement of service
  • oral renewals for permission: to be heard within one month of request
  • applications for permission under s289 of the TCPA 1990: to be determined within one month of issue
  • substantive statutory applications (including under s288 TCPA 1990): to be heard within 6 months of issue and
  • judicial reviews: to be heard within 10 weeks of the expiry of the period for submission of the last party's detailed grounds.

Planning Court claims may be categorised as 'significant' by the Planning Liaison Judge and any representations on the categorisation of a Planning Court claim must be made in writing when the claim is issued or an acknowledgement of service is lodged.  Notwithstanding a claim's categorisation, the Planning Liaison Judge may direct expedition of any claim if considered necessary to deal with the case justly.

Finally, the Planning Court may make case management directions, including requiring a party that intends to contest a claim to file and serve summary grounds.