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Planning some changes?

It has been a long time in the making but Jersey has a new planning appeal process: the Planning and Building (Amendment No. 6) (Jersey) Law 2014 came into force on 10 March 2015.

This amendment will be of interest to anyone who is disgruntled by a decision or action taken by the planning application committee. For example, planning permission refusal or a disagreeable condition which is attached to a planning permission.

Appealing a planning decision was previously a complex, longwinded, and ultimately expensive process, which required individuals to go to the Royal Court.   Under the new system, individuals will no longer have to go to the Royal Court to appeal a decision made under the Planning and Building (Jersey) Law 2002.

The cost of appealing

A fee will be payable depending on the type of appeal. There are no provisions to award costs so all parties will be expected to bear their own costs as follows:

  • Appeal against the granting of planning permission (for both major and minor developments) – £300;
  • Appeal against the refusal for planning permission for major development – £300;
  • Appeal against the refusal for planning permission for minor development for example walls, fences or similar, shop front alterations or signs and adverts – £100.

The steps in the appeal process

Independent Inspectors will now be appointed by the Judicial Greffe.

Individuals have 28 days from the date of a decision to appeal against it. The appeal must be submitted to the Judicial Greffe and the Grieffier will allocate an appropriate independent Inspector from a panel of those recruited by the Judicial appointment committee.

The appeal will be considered by the Inspector based upon its merits, either by written submissions or by convening a hearing chaired by the Inspector.

The Inspector will make his recommendations following consideration of the merits of the appeal to the Minister. The Minister will then decide on the outcome, which will take around 10 weeks from acceptance of the appeal.

The Inspectors’ recommendations are not binding on the Minister but if the Minister makes a decision that is at odds with the Inspectors advice, he will need to outline his reasons for doing so. The advice given to the Minister will be released at the same time as the decision of the appeal.

Appealing an appeal

Further appeals will only be allowed in very limited circumstances and will require a decision from Royal Court. This is to be expected where there is a question of law involved with the decision.

Comment

The new Planning and Building (Amendment No. 6) (Jersey) Law 2014 may have been a long time coming but it has some interesting outcomes. There is a major change to the Minister’s role in that he is no longer involved in any first-tier planning decision, which means he will not be judging the merits of his own decision on appeal.  This should ensure greater fairness and accountability.

The appeals process is still not fully independent, as the decisions of the Inspector still ultimately remain in the hands of the Minister.

It remains to be seen whether the new process will be simpler, cheaper and faster and whether the Minister will agree with the Inspector in the majority of cases. For now, it is a step in a new direction for planning decisions – hopefully in the right direction.

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