Bias and pre-determination in planning cases
Bias and pre-determination in planning cases

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Bias and pre-determination in planning cases
  • Scope of bias and pre-determination in planning cases
  • ‘Actual’ and ‘apparent’ bias
  • Pre-determination
  • Application of
  • in subsequent case law on bias and pre-determination
  • Localism Act 2011 and bias and pre-determination
  • Interplay between the functions and responsibilities of planning inspectors and and bias and pre-determination
  • Bias by ministers

Scope of bias and pre-determination in planning cases

Bias and pre-determination can be an issue in planning cases where a planning decision-maker, including a local planning authority (LPA) or planning inspector, is determining a planning application or appeal. Bias arises where a planning officer and/or councillor and/or inspector (the decision-maker) forms or shows bias against or in favour of a person, company or group, or a particular site or locality. Pre-determination is where the decision-maker approaches a decision with a ‘closed mind’. Planning decision-makers are under a duty to act fairly. Clearly, where a decision-maker is biased or has pre-determined a decision, they will not be acting fairly. The decision will have been taken in bad faith and is liable to being quashed if challenged by way of judicial or statutory review. See Practice Note: Determining planning applications—procedure.

‘Actual’ and ‘apparent’ bias

Bias can take two forms:

  1. ‘actual’ bias: this is where the decision-maker has a personal interest in the outcome of a case. The decision must be quashed unless the interest was so small that it could have played no part in swaying the decision-maker's mind

  2. ‘apparent’ bias: this is where a decision-maker does not have a personal interest in a case but their conduct and behaviour give rise to a suspicion that the decision-maker is not impartial

The modern law on apparent bias comes from the

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