Civil liability for planning decisions

An ill-judged grant of planning permission may give rise to pollution problems and environmental damage. Even so, according to a recent decision of the High Court, the local planning authority owes no duty of care to neighbours suffering loss, and cannot be liable in negligence to them.

There has been a handful of previous cases where developers seeking planning permission have unsuccessfully tried to sue an authority over its alleged ill-handling of an application. But Reyford Houses Ltd and another v Sevenoaks District Council and others (The Independent Law Report, 14 February 1988) seems to be the first reported case where the plaintiffs have been neighbouring owners seeking compensation.

Since 1972, Reyford H

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