What’s in a name? Certainly naming planning authorities’ organ for handling internal appeals of delegated planning decisions the “Local Review Body” (LRB) has caused much confusion. Many planning authorities have taken the word “review” to imply that the body’s role is not to reconsider any decision on its merits, but only to examine what the appointed officer decided for its correctness.
Jim McKinnon sent a letter to heads of planning at the end of July (you can find all his letters on line now in the advice section of the Government’s planning website) to tell them that in any review the LRB must consider all aspects of the application afresh (that means “de novo” m’lud). This puts the LRB in the same position as a reporter in deciding cases within their remit.
This is not a pettifogging lawyers’ angels-on-a-pinhead point: it means that the LRB is entitled to consider evidence that the planning officer did not have before him (subject to the section 43B new matters rule), and also to consider new issues that crop up (the most obvious example is any policy change). If the review was just a check of the appointed officer’s decision, this would not be possible.
We look forward to more from Judge McKinnon!
On August 15, 2011