Planning and Judicial Review – Are third party appeals an alternative, or complementary to judicial review?





School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Queen's University Belfast
Level 3
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG
Northern Ireland



+44 (0)2890 974254


Current Research:

This research project will critically examine the use of judicial review in relation to the planning decision making process within the different jurisdictions of the United Kingdom, drawing in particular on planning litigation within Northern Ireland; it will include a comparative study of planning litigation in the Republic of Ireland.  The use of the judicial review process in this area has been criticised by some quarters as a barrier to economic growth, with the process being often abused as an oblique appeal procedure for commercial advantage .  At the same time the process is seen by many as a necessary safeguard, with reform in this area viewed as an attack on the rule of law’.

In 2012, David Cameron announced a government intention to restrict objectors’ rights of mounting  legal challenges in an effort to speed up development, while at the same time reflecting a desire to halt a ‘growth industry’ in judicial review challenges .  In this context, in Northern Ireland, where there is no there is no third party right of appeal, the Assembly included provisions in the 2013 Planning Bill to restrict the ability of objection to planning decisions via the process of judicial review.  The Bill was subsequently withdrawn in the aftermath of an October 2013 legal opinion  that suggested such provisions not to be in compliance with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and a likely breach of the Aarhus Convention.

The research will be qualitative in nature, involving the review of all relevant documentation; analysis of significant cases; and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders.  It is anticipated that the findings of this research will add to the debate around the scope of challenge to a planning decision, and in particular the potential for third party rights of appeal in Northern Ireland, within the context of conflicting opinion on the desirability of citizens to avail of the judicial review process.

Supervisors: Dr Stephen McKay & Dr Michael Murray


Diploma in Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment Management, University College Dublin, 2006
Postgraduate Diploma in Town and Country Planning, Queen’s University Belfast, 2000
B. Sc. Hons (2:1) Environmental Planning


PhD Postgraduate Research Studentship, Department of Education and Learning, 2014


Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute