Francis Taylor Building hosted a fascinating seminar on Mediation in Planning on Tuesday 28th May. Barristers Craig Howell Williams QC and Jeremy Phillips QC presented on this increasingly import area for Planners. Each drew on their considerable experience to highlight how Mediation has gained currency over the last decade due to:
- increased costs of litigation involved in planning disputes,
- the Planning Act 2004 – resulting in front loading of the Local Planning Inquiry process, and
- the Localism Act 2011 – focusing on Neighbourhood planning involving groups unused to legal terms and processes.
At its heart the process involves the appointment of a mediator whose role is to act as an honest broker between parties keen to resolve a planning dispute. Both parties have to be committed to seeking resolution through mediation; the process is voluntary. Rules of ‘engagement’ are often agreed at the outset which may involve some form of agreement. Meetings are carried out either between the mediator with one or both parties; this process refines what the issues are as both parties move towards agreement.
References for future interest are The National Planning Forum (2010) report by Leonora Rozee OBE and Kay Powell.