Environmental Mediation in Planning Appeals: Lessons from the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales
In both England and Wales (UK) and New South Wales (Australia) the respective planning systems permit the applicant a right of appeal to challenge the merits of a town planning decision. These systems have experienced a growing appeal workload over the last 10 years whilst their administrators have sought to increase the speed of decision making. To deal with such pressures, as well as to provide an alternative method of resolving appeal disputes, the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales has introduced a mediation facility in planning appeals. The Court itself has estimated that some 736 hours have been spent in mediation with an estimated saving of Court time of approximately 405 days. This paper examines how these reforms have sought to reduce the level of dispute in the planning system and consequently the number of appeals with their associated time and expense. Comparison will be made with reforms introduced into the UK system, in particular the Informal Hearing method. The extent to which such mediation could operate in the UK is considered.
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