Default Planing Permission. HRA PLANNING arguments upheld by the Supreme Court

Default Planning Permission – A case in point.

In a ruling this week, the Supreme Court overturned a previous judgement of the High Court and awarded relief to our client.  This issue was based upon the legislative provisions of  ‘default’ planning permission contained in the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Under review of the planning application, HRA PLANNING provided opinion and advice to the developer that their development was entitled to planning permission by default under the express provisions of Section.34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

A subsequent case for Judicial Review was prepared to the High Court seeking declaration and mandatory order to the effect that the planning authority had made a decision to grant planing permission in respect to a development proposal as it (the planning authority) had failed to make a decision and notify the applicant within the appropriate legislative timeframe.   The High Court refused relief essentially on discretionary grounds namely without due regard to the Local Area Plan and on the basis that rights of individuals cannot be ignored under the European convention of human rights.

On consideration that the judge erred in relation to the exercise of their discretion, the decision of the High Court was challenged by the applicant to the Supreme Court.

Most notably, the Supreme Court determination validates the foundation of arguments that were drafted and presented by HRA PLANNING during the judicial review process that:

  • The local area plan was hierarchically subordinate to the County Development Plan in this case;
  • It is within the power of a local authority to deviate from a Local Area Plan as no such  deviation resulted in a material contravention of the County Development Plan;
  • The consideration by the planning authority of a planning application is limited to Section 34(2)(a) of the Planing Act and it is impossible for the Court to determine what weight a planning authority might give any one or more of the criteria;
  • The only relevant criterion capable of legal and justifiable identification in the Planning Act was adherence to the County Development Plan; and
  • The rights of notice (third) parties was not adversely effected in this case such that it would warrant a refusal for relief of default permission given the express provisions of the Planning Act.

The above case demonstrates the importance of considered and professional Town Planning opinion during the planning application process, and in review of decisions by planning authorities.


 Gary Rowan is a a Chartered Town Planning Consultant and Director with HRA PLANNING.