Planning rules lack 'teeth', says report

PLANNING lawyers have called for an overhaul of large and medium-sized planning inquiries in an effort to speed up the process.

In a report to the Department of Environment, the planning and environmental law sub-committee of the City of London Law Society said the current procedures lacked “teeth” to deal with those who disregarded the rules.

The report argued that while the inquiry procedures set out a pre-inquiry timetable and requirements for disclosure, the rules in practice were widely disregarded.

It said that facts and issues which were capable of being dealt with at the pre-inquiry stage were often left until the inquiry itself.

“Any lawyer involved in the planning process will be frustrated with the lack of power,” said committee member Tony Kitson, of McKenna & Co. “The parallel is with litigation where, if the other party fails to do something, you can go to court to get an order.”

He said there had been frustration expressed over a number of years that there were no sanctions to enforce the rules.

The recommendations by the committee would speed the process up, and would not require new legislation or cost money to implement.