R (Mark Tentori) v Central Bedfordshire Council CO/1322/2018
The Claimant challenged the Defendant’s grant of prior approval for alleged permitted development involving a change of use from B8 storage to C3 residential use.
The Defendant asserted in pre-action correspondence that the Claim was misconceived and would be resisted, but failed to file an acknowledgement of service, or detailed grounds of resistance after judicial review permission was granted on paper. Having indicated a preference for a substantive hearing date, the Defendant then waited until after the Claimant had filed its skeleton argument before consenting to judgment.
The Planning Court (Mr David Elvin Q.C.) quashed the Defendant’s decision by consent, and ordered the Defendant pay the Claimant £20000 in costs, observing that it had taken into account “…the lack of diligence by the Council in these proceedings (accepting the points in the Claimant’s submissions) and its failure to respond appropriately to Court orders, or to act appropriately (e.g. see the complaint about the skeleton argument) and the necessary prolongation of these proceedings despite an initial response that the claim would be defended…”.
Whilst one might have sympathy for local planning authorities who are under increased budget pressures in the present financial climate, this case illustrates the importance of judicial review defendants taking a considered view of their position at an early stage, or else significant unnecessary costs may be incurred by the parties, ultimately falling to be paid by the ‘losing’ side.
Jeremy Pike (instructed by EMW Law) for the Claimant.