Planning Court Confirms Approach to s.31(2A) of the Senior Courts Act 1981

On 22 May 2024, the Planning Court (Mrs Justice Lang DBE) handed down judgment in R (Strongroom Ltd) v London Borough of Hackney [2024] EWHC 1221 (Admin), which concerned the council’s decision to grant prior approval on a second application, without notifying and consulting the claimant as it had done on an earlier similar application.  

The court described the council’s approach as “seriously flawed”.  Much of the substantive hearing therefore addressed discretion and remedy. The case is of wider interest for its commentary on the exercise of the court’s discretion under s.31(2A) of the Senior Courts Act 1981.  The claimant submitted that the council had failed to discharge the burden of proof upon it under s31(2A), in the absence of any supporting evidence.  The Planning Court endorsed the ‘helpful summary of the case law’ provided by Kate Grange KC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, in R (Cava Bien Ltd) v Milton Keynes Council [2021] EWHC 3003 (Admin), before concluding that a quashing order was the appropriate relief on the facts of this case.

Jonathan Darby of 39 Essex Chambers acted for the successful Claimant, instructed by Richard Eaton of Birketts LLP.