Are you listening? Digital Consultation in Plan-Making: A Warning for Local Authorities

Are you listening? Digital Consultation in Plan-Making: A Warning for Local Authorities

It may be called the 'world wide' web but can local authorities treat online channels as a 'one-stop shop' when seeking to discharge legal duties to alert and consult the general public on plan-making issues?

And to what extent will the court exercise its discretion as to remedies where a breach of such duties is found?

Jamie McKie examines  the answers - and warnings - found in the judgment of Lindblom J in Kendall v Rochford DC 2014.

What prompted Mrs Kendall’s claim?

Mrs Kendall, a local resident, challenged the adequacy of the consultation process followed by Rochford District Council in the adoption of its Allocations Plan ("the AP"). The AP is a key local development framework document which allocates specific sites and details policies for a range of uses in Rochford, such as residential and employment.

During its preparation of the AP, the council chose to limit direct consultation primarily to 'key stakeholders' rather than individuals. When it did consult the general public, it relied almost exclusively on its own website for issuing alerts and collecting comments.

Mrs Kendall argued that this was inadequate and denied residents the opportunity to feed into the plan-making process in the required way. As such, she submitted that certain policies in the AP should be remitted back to the council or quashed.

Questions for the Court

It fell to the c

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