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Introduction to Administrative Law

Introduction to Administrative Law


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Published by: intcomlaw on May 15, 2009
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many examples. In convening an Examination in Public of a structure plan, the
Secretary of State for the Environment is empowered to nominate those objec-
tors who are to be permitted a hearing at the Examination and to define the
issues to be examined by the participants (Town and Country Planning Act 1990
(as amended)). In determining an application for planning permission the Act
indicates a limited category of applications which must be publicised (s 65,
which ought to be read in conjunction with the Town and Country Planning
(General Development) Order 1995). Any person making objections in response
to such a publicised application is legally entitled to have his written objections
taken into account by the local planning authority (Act of 1990 s 71). This clearly
excludes any right to an oral hearing before the authority prior to a decision
being taken and also excludes any legal right to make representations for any
person in respect of applications which fall outside a category requiring public-
ity. In practice, many authorities advertise most, if not all, applications and vol-
untarily take account of the written representations made. Finally, the statutory
rules of procedure governing public local inquiries into planning appeals (and
compulsory purchase and highway proposals) expressly exclude any questions
being raised as to the merits of government policy. This exclusion of discussion
about the merits of government policy was in contention at an inquiry into
highway proposals in Bushell v Secretary of State for the Environment(1980).
Somewhat surprisingly the House of Lords decided that the inspector’s refusal
to permit cross examination on traffic flow forecasts was justifiable since these
forecasts are facets of government policy relating to criteria for motorway con-
struction. The courts may be increasingly sympathetic to the idea that, in so far
as inquiries are involved in the consideration of objections or recommendations
and reporting to the relevant minister, any refusal of cross-examination of wit-
nesses does not amount to a breach of natural justice. This conclusion is based
on the observation that such inquiries are concerned with non-justiciable issues:
R v London Regional Passenger Committee, ex p London Borough of Brent(1985).

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