1 July saw the time limit for starting a planning-related JR reduce from 3 months to 6 weeks, in an effort to add certainty to the industry and kick-start development. Moreover, in the same month a 'Planning Fast-Track' was put in place in the Administrative Court to identify planning JRs at an early stage and prioritise them with a view to meeting target deadlines (including sending paper applications to a judge within 14 days of receipt and hearing substantive JRs within 3 months of the decision of a provisional hearing) and ensure they are allocated to 'appropriate members of the judiciary'.
A recent consultation paper on further JR reforms suggests that more can be done, noting that in 2011 the average time from lodging an application to a full hearing was 370 days.
The paper suggests the creation of a 'specialist planning chamber' - in fact to be part of the Lands Chamber, with specialist judges being deployed. At the moment, judges sit on a range of cases - from asylum, to planning, and criminal trials. It is hoped that having specialist judges will speed up the process and allow planning cases to be better prioritised - whether or not you think that is a good idea presumably depends on what side of the fence you are sitting on, but there can be no doubt that the historic delays in dealing with JRs causes frustration and added cost to many.
The consultation on this and other JR matters is open until 1 November.