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The Working Party aims to influence the debate about planning and the scope and ambition of sustainable development. Whilst the language of 'sustainable development' has been around for some time, the last few years have seen a considerable effort to translate this international ambition to the national and local level. Lawyers can no longer treat 'sustainable development' as if it was confined to the field of policy-making. The term is now appearing in legislation, and as a material consideration in the decisions of public bodies.

Meetings take place each year (June) at the UKELA Annual Conference, and at other times as appropriate. Consultation responses are coordinated primarily by e-mail among members.

The co-convenors welcome help with consultations and are happy to receive any suggestions for the Working Party to take forward.

The Working Party is open to all UKELA members. If you would like to join, contact the WP's convenors.

Next Event

To be announced.

Recent Events and Activities

The group held a Working Party session during the online annual conference on Friday 26th June 2020.  The recording will be available shortly. 

Fracking: The group is taking an active interest in the regulation of fracking through the planning system. Members attended a special presentation and Q&A session on the Environment Agency's draft guidance on Shale Gas on Tuesday 9 February at King & Wood Mallesons. The group has helped programme two UKELA events on fracking and the environment.

Neighbourhood Planning: The Working Party organised a seminar in April 2015 jointly with PEBA on how the system of neighbourhood planning, introduced under the Localism Act 2011, is working out in practice. The session considered how those involved can ensure that plans and Orders actively shape local development while also benefiting the wider area, including the delivery of sustainable development and environmental gains. It also looked at the role for Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats assessments. It was chaired by James Findlay QC (Cornerstone Barristers) with presentations by James Corbet-Burcher and Tim Jones (No5 Chambers), Charles Mynors (Francis Taylor Building) and Matthew Harrison (White Design).

Regulating nuisance: The Working Party organised a session on regulating nuisance at UKELA's Edinburgh conference in June 2014. The session was held jointly with the environmental litigation working party and covered: the ten issues from Coventry v Lawrence and how they are changing nuisance law and remedies; the common law and statutory examples from noise nuisance; what's happened to funding and running nuisance cases after Jackson. We heard from Will Upton (6 Pump Court), Professor Francis McManus (Edinburgh Napier University), Gordon Wignall (Number 5 Chambers) and Innes Urbanski (Senior Acoustician, Waterman Environmental). The group also helped organised a London meeting on Nuisance on 15 April.

Reform of judicial review: The Ministry of Justice published in February 2014 plans for reform, following the second consultation on this area in nine months. The underlying aims have been 'to stem the growth in applications for judicial review' (December 2012 consultation) and to reduce delays to development projects in particular. The Environmental Litigation Working Party and Planning & Sustainable Development Working Party have submitted joint responses to both consultations. The first response (January 2013), raised concerns that reducing the time limit for bringing planning judicial reviews 'would give rise to a real sense of injustice and to actual injustice'; and cautioned against removing the right to seek an oral permission hearing for applications that have been rejected on the papers as 'entirely without merit'. The second response (November 2013) was broadly supportive of proposals for a specialist Land and Planning Chamber of the Administrative Court, but raised concerns about some proposal including those to restrict standing in a way that might be contrary to the Aarhus Convention. Copies of both response are available on the Environmental Litigation Working Party page.

Sustainable development: We held a joint session with the Wales working party on Sunday 14 July 2013 at the UKELA conference in Cambridge. The session considered the current status of sustainable development in law; the proposed sustainable development duty under the Welsh Sustainable Development Bill; and the implementation of the presumption in favour of sustainable development under the National Planning Policy Framework. It was chaired by Will Upton (convenor), with presentations by Haydn Davies (Wales working party convenors), Fran Aldson & Yohanna Weber (convenors).

NPPF and the presumption in favour of sustainable development: We helped organise a UKELA-PEBA seminar on 22 November 2012 on the practicalities of the presumption in favour of sustainable development under the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The event was chaired by Morag Ellis QC, with speakers Ben Linscott (PINS), Hugh Ellis (TCPA) and John Rhodes (Quod planning consultancy). The questions and ensuing debate exposed some strikingly different views about the document and how it should be interpreted.

We considered issues to watch for concerning application of the new NPPF at our meeting on Saturday 7 July 2012 at the UKELA conference in Southampton. Will Upton (6 Pump Court), Neil Sinden (CPRE) and Richard Ford (Pinsent Masons) gave short presentations which were followed by a group discussion. At our previous meeting on 26 March, Dr Eloise Scotford of King's College gave a presentation on the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the draft National Planning Policy Framework.

Consultation Responses

>UKELA response to Net Gain Consultation February 2019


The Working Party is seeking new co-convenors

Please get in touch if you are interested.  It is a varied and interesting role - we welcome your enquiry.

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