Declaratory relief of planning decisions

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

  • Declaratory relief of planning decisions
  • Stand-alone applications for declaratory relief—CPR 1998, r 40.20
  • Declaratory relief obtained as part of judicial review—CPR 1998, r 54.3

Declaratory relief of planning decisions

A declaratory judgment is a judgment identifying the rights, duties or obligations of one or more parties in a dispute. It is legally binding, but does not order any action by a party. A court may issue it alone or in conjunction with some other relief such as an injunction and can be granted on an application for judicial review.

An advantage of declaratory relief is the substantial saving of costs in determining a specific question as a preliminary issue, thus dispensing with the need for further argument or facilitating a settlement. Declaratory relief may be sought as part of, or in place of, applications for the judicial review of decisions of tribunals or public bodies, including local planning authorities (LPAs). It can be a simple, cost-effective and flexible way to construe legislation and encourage good administration without requiring previous determinations to be overturned if this would be impracticable or inconvenient.

It is important to note that declaratory relief in planning cases will only be available to deal with questions relating to the validity of any particular decision or action taken by the LPA in so far as judicial supervision is not expressly precluded by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990), or where there is an absence of an alternative statutory appeal.

In a planning context, the court has decided

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