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Wed November 25 2020

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Campaigners lose bid to halt planning reform

18 Nov A campaign group seeking to overturn government planning reforms has lost the first round of its legal challenge.

Rights:Community:Action (RCA) applied for a judicial review of the recent extension of permitted development rights.  Two High Court judges yesterday dismissed RCA’s legal challenge to the use of statutory instruments (SIs) used to bring in the changes.

The campaign group said that it would seek permission to appeal.

Changes to permitted development rights introduced this summer mean that planning permission is no longer required for certain types of building extensions and office-to-residential conversions. New storeys above an existing dwelling-house can be added without planning permission (permitted development). And 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.

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RCA campaigner Naomi Luhde-Thompson said: “The PM wants to tear down the existing planning system, and these reforms have been rushed through with scant regard for consultation and in a period which excluded the input of MPs, using the pandemic as an excuse.

“We believe these changes will have a phenomenally negative impact on the people and environment of towns and cities across England. That is why we are seeking permission to appeal.”

Leigh Day solicitor Tom Short, who represents the group, said: “Our client is disappointed that the court has turned down its application for judicial review. Although the court recognised the very significant environment impact that these changes will have, it has reached a conclusion on the technical requirements of the strategic environmental assessment directive that puts these changes outside the scope of the kind of plans or programmes that require assessments. Our client is firmly of the view that the directive does apply to these SIs and will seek permission to appeal that ground.”

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