The amendments to the Use Classes Order 1987 and permitted development regime (covered in our previous blog post here) came into force earlier this week, 1 September 2020, but have already been met with legal challenge by Rights:Community:Action, an environmental campaign group.
The group issued a crowdfunded judicial review claim to the High Court on 26 August 2020, requesting that the new measures are quashed and seeking urgent interim relief suspending the changes pending the outcome of the claim. The claim challenges the lawfulness of three statutory instruments relating to the changes, being the introduction of permitted development rights for the upwards extension of dwellings by two stories and new Class ZA for the demolition of commercial premises or blocks of flats and the construction of a detached dwelling or block of flats, as well as the introduction of new Class E into the Use Classes Order.
Rights: Community: Action argue that the Government did not carry out the correct procedures in introducing the new measures as it failed to (1) undertake an environmental assessment pursuant to the SEA Directive, (2) have regard to the public sector equality duty pursuant to the Equality Act 2010 and (3) comply with its consultation duties in a number of ways.
Sir Justice Holgate issued a response to the legal challenge on 2 September 2020 via Court direction. This ordered that the interim relief application be withdrawn and scheduled a rolled up hearing for 1.5 days between 8 October 2020 to 15 October 2020. The rolled up hearing will first consider if permission is to be granted for the claim to be heard and if it is, will proceed to the substantive hearing immediately.
In the meantime, the new rights remain in force. However, we would advise caution against placing any reliance on the new measures until the High Court has handed down its judgment.
The proposed updated planning practice guidance relating to the changes has not yet been published and may be delayed pending the outcome of the claim. We will update you with any news as it happens.
Rights: Community: Action challenges the lawfulness of the three statutory instruments, on the basis that they should have been subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment and an Equalities Impact Assessment. RCA also alleges that the Secretary of State breached important consultation duties, including his own express promise to consult further on the new Class ZA (commercial demolition and rebuild) before enacting the proposed change.