REALWorld Law

Planning / zoning

Review by other bodies

Are there any circumstances in which an application for permission for development or the carrying on of a designated use or the permission itself is reviewed by another body, eg a court?

Angola

Angola

Depending on the location of the land, there may be an obligation to consult one or several administrative entities who may issue binding opinions within the licencing procedures.

Courts do not directly intervene in administrative procedures.

Argentina

Argentina

Yes. Any administrative decision can be reviewed by a court if any right is being affected by it.

Australia

Australia

While the process varies between states, there is generally a right of merits review to a court or tribunal. Each state has a specific Land and Environment Court or Planning Appeals Tribunal to deal with planning, environmental and related matters.

Rights of review may accrue to the applicant (in case of a refusal or in an appeal against imposed conditions) or to a third party (for example, an objector or another statutory authority which has concerns about the proposal). Most jurisdictions allow both applicants and third parties to initiate court proceedings to seek judicial review of the lawfulness of planning decisions. This generally involves review on administrative law grounds; eg failure to provide procedural fairness, having regard to irrelevant considerations or improper purpose.

Belgium

Belgium

Other public authorities and some third parties can appeal a decision granting or refusing a permit. The Council of State, which can suspend and annul permit decisions, is the competent judicial body for the Walloon Region and Brussels-Capital Region.

For the Flemish Region, a new judicial body has been created and named the Council of Permit Disputes (it has been functioning since November 2009), which has taken over the responsibility for suspending and annulling permit decisions from the Council of State. A new decree was published at the end of 2023 that, from its entry into force (no later than 31 December 2024), will allow the Council of Permit Disputes to also take notice of appeals lodged against decisions on the final adoption of regional, provincial and municipal spatial implementation plans. Legal practice showed that this Council (which originally consisted of three Judges in three different Chambers) faced a significant workload. Seven judges were added over the years to this Council in order to counter the delays. Currently, it can be expected that it takes on average 12 months to decide on an annulment procedure relating to an integrated environmental permit. The Council of State is the ‘Cassation’ Judge for decisions of this Council of Permit Disputes.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Only in cases when an interested party commences a legal action within 30 days from the day on which urban approval for the development is issued to the investor.

Brazil

Brazil

Depending on the area and/or the impact it may have (such as because of environmental concerns, traffic congestion, impact to native people, relevance as a heritage site or any other issues that involve public interest), the authorization or refusal of the permission may be questioned by the Public Prosecution Office and reviewed by the local courts and/or the applicable public authority responsible for issuing the permission.

Canada

Canada

While the process varies between provinces, a decision – denying or approving the request – can usually be the subject of some form of judicial review.

The applicant may appeal a denial to an administrative review body or a court (in case of a refusal or in an appeal against imposed conditions). In some circumstances, certain third parties may appeal a decision to approve an application. Court proceedings generally involves review on administrative law grounds; eg failure to provide procedural fairness, having regard to irrelevant considerations or improper purposes, or a lack of jurisdiction.

China

China

An administrative review of a decision can be brought by “all citizens, legal persons and other organizations” as long as the circumstances fall within those listed in Section 1 of Chapter 2 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administrative Review.

Colombia

Colombia

According to the Regulatory Decree of Housing, City and Territory, as a general rule, the urban permit application must be resolved exclusively with the requirements established by the national laws. However, the relevant authorities may request from other authorities the information they need to specify the requirements defined by the national regulations.

In other words, it is possible to involve other authorities that the urban authority deems necessary. So  it’s common to involve the heritage authorities when dealing with a property of cultural interest or the environmental authority when a possible environmental impact is identified.

Croatia

Croatia

An appeal may be submitted against a building permit. A party may file an administrative action with the Administrative Court against a decision made in the appeal process,

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

A decision can be the subject of a judicial review by a court which has the necessary power on the basis of an allegation by a third party that the decision may have been made unlawfully and that the rights of that third party have been infringed. In order to succeed such a person must show in the court proceedings that he has exhausted all other possible administrative remedies.

A decision can also be reviewed in the event that it has been made unlawfully. The time limit for filing an action is two months after the delivery of the relevant decision.

Denmark

Denmark

Objections to a building permit issued under the Building Act of 23 September 2016 can be reviewed by Byggeklageenheden (the building appeal unit).

The most common review is carried out by the state authority, Planklagenaevnet, which requires a complaint to be lodged by either the applicants or by a person/company who has the right to appeal (for example, the neighbours).

Objections concerning decisions of the municipality and Planklagenaevnet can also be sent to the institution known as Ombudsmanden where the decision can be declared invalid.

A review by the court requires a law suit.

France

France

Planning permissions are referred by the municipalities to the Préfets who are the representatives of the French State at the level of each Département.

Planning permissions can be challenged by the Préfet within a two-month period as from the notification of the building permit.

Furthermore, the Préfet can ask the mayor/the court to withdraw or cancel a permission on the grounds that it is not legal (mainly because it does not comply with the provisions of the local development plan). Third parties can apply to the mayor or the court to withdraw or cancel the permission.

Germany

Germany

First, an application must be submitted in which the planned construction works and the use of the land are specified. The responsible authorities will then forward the application to any other authority with a potential interest in the planned project (for example: the environmental authorities, historic monument protection authorities, etc).

The responsible authority itself verifies whether the project complies with planning law. If so, and if there are no relevant concerns raised by the other authorities involved, the responsible authority must grant the permission.

If a permit is refused, legal action may still be commenced

However, where legal action is commenced, a court will review the application documents to establish whether the grant or refusal of a building permit was lawful or not.

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

A decision of the Town Planning Board can be the subject of a judicial review in the High Court in the event that it has been made unlawfully.

Hungary

Hungary

Yes, judicial review of a building authority’s decision is available, the decision of the building authority can be challenged before an administrative court.

Ireland

Ireland

Yes, judicial review of decisions of planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála is available in the High Court subject to strict criteria under Section 50 of the 2000 Act. It is important to note that judicial review is concerned with the procedural legality alone of the planning decision, as opposed to the merits of the decision. The onus of proof is on the applicant challenging the decision to demonstrate that the decision is invalid, irrational and unreasonable. This is a high bar and there is a presumption that the decision is valid unless proven otherwise.

Italy

Italy

The municipality can ‘call in’ an application for their own determination if, for any reason, the decision is not considered legitimate or convenient (autotutela). A decision can also be the subject of judicial review if it has been made unlawfully. At any rate, unless the declarations in the SCIA request are false, after 12 months the municipality is no longer entitled to annul it by taking self-protection measures.

On the other hand, the applicant whose request was rejected has the right to submit a further request to the municipality in order to obtain a second non-judicial review. The applicant is entitled to participate in the administrative proceeding by submitting documents and notes to the municipality. In case the municipality refuses to release the building title, the applicant may file a petition before the competent Regional Administrative Tribunal.

Japan

Japan

A decision (ie permission or rejection) by the local government can be reviewed (i) by a court or (ii) by a construction examination committee which is an internal body established by a local government when the applicant appeals against the decision. 

Netherlands

Netherlands

As specified above, legal recourse against decisions and enforcement requests in principle entails an administrative consideration and a subsequent judicial appeals phase (in one or two instances). Environmental plans have an initial consideration phase in which anyone can submit views; in principle stakeholders who have submitted views may lodge appeals with the Dutch Council of State upon adoption of a environmental plan. However, following European case law (‘Varkens in Nood’) –if their appeal concerns an environmental matter –- even stakeholders who have failed to submit views as well as any person who did submit views, may lodge an appeal. Permitting decisions are either subject to the above procedure or may be subject to administrative objection recourse and subsequent appeals.

The national government (Rijk) and the Provincial Executive can issue a so- called 'proactive intervention' (see: Proactieve interventie, section 2.5 of the Environment & Planning Act, articles 2.22 onwards) – eg instruction rules (instructieregels) –- to the municipality. The proactive intervention may oblige a municipality to implement particular instructions regarding the content of the environmental plan within a specific timeframe. In order to make a provincial intervention, for instance, there must be a provincial interest and that interest cannot be effectively served by municipalities. The presence of a provincial interest may firstly result from tasks explicitly assigned to provinces by law (eg airports of regional significance). In addition, provinces themselves may also judge that there is a provincial interest, for which it is efficient and effective to issue instructional rules or instructions by environmental ordinance. Here, for example, the reference to provincial policy on a certain subject as laid down in the provincial environmental strategy (provincial omgevingsvisie) is sufficient

The concept known under the previous legal system as the ‘reactive designation’ (reactieve aanwijzing) also returns under the Environment & Planning Act (. article 16.21, of the Environment & Planning Act Act) as ‘reactive intervention’ (reactieve interventie)– although only available to provinces instead of the national government. Such a reactive intervention can prevent a (part of the) environmental plan from entering into force. In a reactive intervention decision, the Provincial Executive determines that a part of the decision to adopt or amend the environmental plan does not remain part of that decision The government and the Provincial Executive can only issue this instruction if they filed an opinion of objection first. Provincial Executive can only use the reactive intervention power if it is necessary for a balanced allocation of functions to locations. And if the decision to adopt or amend the environment plan conflicts with a provincial interest.

If instructions are neglected, a province can adopt a ‘substitution decree’ (plaatsvervangend besluit). This means that the province itself adopts the decision that the municipality has failed to adopt. The Province may also ask the Crown (De Kroon) to annul a municipality decision.

New Zealand

New Zealand

The council can decide to hold a hearing if the applicant or submitter requests that a hearing is necessary. Such a hearing is a chance for the applicant and submitters to give their views on the application so they’re usually only held if a resource consent has been notified (though they can also occur for non-notified applications). There is then a right of appeal to the Environment Court.

The Resource Management Act 1991 provides for a direct referral process where a resource consent applicant can make a request to council that their resource consent be decided by the Environment Court, rather than the relevant council. This only applies to applications that have been notified (limited or public). The direct referral process is generally undertaken in relation to large-scale and complex applications that are likely to be appealed to the Environment Court following the council hearing and decision and therefore acts to streamline decision-making and reduce costs.

Nigeria

Nigeria

Third parties and other persons who are aggrieved by an approved proposed development may institute civil proceedings in the High Court against the property owner and the state government/relevant authority.

Generally, an aggrieved party may seek appropriate reliefs from the High Court against a decision of the Planning Permit Authority granting license for a development or for change from designated use or zoning for an area. The law, under Section 89 (1) and (2) of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning and Development (Amendment) Law 2019, grants to an aggrieved person or an interested party the right to appeal against the decision of the Appeals Committee to the High Court of the State.

Norway

Norway

It is always possible to appeal a decision to a superior authority.

If a building permit is denied or a dispensation from the plan for land use is denied, the decision may in some cases be appealed to the local Standing Committee on Urban Development (for the relevant municipality). If the local building authority’s decision is upheld, the complaint will be tried by the County governor. A denied permit or dispensation can always be appealed to the County governor.

In some cases, the County governor can raise objections to a permit and the final decision is taken by The Ministry of Local Government and Modernization.

When this method of appeal is exhausted, one can choose to go even further by taking the case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman (Sivilombudsmannen) or by bringing a civil case.

Poland

Poland

Under Polish law, both an application for permission and the permission itself may be reviewed by another body. In particular an application for permission for development may be reviewed by a competent public authority with reference to environmental requirements. The permission itself can be, with regard to the Building Law Act, reviewed by the court.

In the event of a submission of a complaint to an administrative court against a decision granting the building permit, the court may order the suspension of that decision conditional upon the complainants having paid a deposit securing the developer's costs arising out of the suspension of the decision payable if the challenge is unsuccessful. If the complaint is dismissed, the deposit is used to settle the claims of the developer.

Portugal

Portugal

Depending on the location of the land, there may be an obligation to consult one or several administrative entities who may issue binding opinions within the licencing and advance notice procedures.

Courts do not directly intervene in administrative procedures.

Romania

Romania

The authority which is competent to issue a building permit depends on the location and the nature of the plot of land on which the building will be developed.

Furthermore, if an interested person files a claim with the administrative courts of law in order to challenge a building permit or the administrative decision to reject the application for a building permit, the application for the issue of the building permit will be reviewed by such courts of law.

Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

The building office shall notify the bodies concerned on the commencement of the zoning or building permit procedure and shall order an oral hearing at which the bodies concerned may raise their objections. If any of the state administration bodies need a longer time for a proper assessment of the application, the building authority shall, at their request, extend the specified period before its expiration, as appropriate.

If building modifications or maintenance works are to be carried out on a building that is a cultural monument, the builder shall obtain the opinion of the monument care authority and submit it to the building office.

Spain

Spain

Any permit can be reviewed by a court if appealed, but courts do not intervene in the administrative procedure.

Regarding development which requires the prior approval of a partial plan, special plan, etc (as determined in the Land Act of the relevant autonomous region), the definitive approval would effectively then be subject to determination by both the local and the regional competent public bodies.

Sweden

Sweden

An application can in some situations be sent out to other authorities or interested organisations for consideration, depending on the type of development and whether it is located within an area of special interest, in most cases an area of historical, cultural or environmental significance. A decision to give permission for a development or the implementation of a new designated use may always be subject to an appeal by a party negatively affected by the permission. The permission will then be reviewed by the county administrative board, whose decision may be appealed against in a Land and Environment court.

Thailand

Thailand

No, local authorities have the sole discretion as to whether or not to approve the permission for development. However, if the permission is refused, the applicant can appeal to the Appeal Committee within 30 days from the refusal and if the applicant does not agree with the decision of the committee, the applicant shall file action to a Thai court within 30 days from such decision.

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

If it is part of a significant development it might be reviewed by the Ruler of the Crown Prince's Office.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

There is no formal application process regarding permission for a development. The planning permission has already been predetermined and issued on the affection plan. There is no formal process currently in place that allows a party to challenge an affection plan. Nor can an applicant challenge the non-issue of an affection plan.

We are of the understanding that if the plot of land is part of a significant/landmark development that the designated use and or design may be reviewed by the Ruler of the Crown Prince's Office.

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

The Mayor of London (where the land is in London) or Secretary of State (ie a senior member of the government, a politician appointed by the Prime Minister) or the Welsh Ministers can 'call in' an application for planning permission for their own determination if it meets certain criteria or raises issues of more than local importance.

A decision can also be the subject of review by the High Court if it can be shown that the decision may have been made unlawfully.

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

The Scottish Ministers can 'call in' an application for their own determination if it meets certain criteria or raises issues of more than local importance. Appeals against refusal of applications or failure to determine applications (other than applications for local development delegated to officers) are also submitted for determination by Scottish Ministers. A decision can also be the subject of judicial review in the event that it has been made unlawfully.

Ukraine

Ukraine

Under Ukrainian law separate decisions in respect of construction adopted by the state bodies (eg decisions to issue a Permit for the Carrying out of Construction Works) could be cancelled by such bodies or the higher-level state bodies (based on grounds provided for in the legislation) and also separate decisions adopted by the executive bodies of local councils (eg decisions on the authorization of plots of land for construction purposes) could be cancelled by the relevant councils.

In addition, persons or legal entities that consider that their rights might be infringed in connection with planned construction are entitled to file claims with the court that might result in the cancellation of the permission for development or a prohibition on the local authority allowing such development. A prosecutor may also appeal a decision approving a development if the planned construction infringes the rights of the state of Ukraine.

Please see the reply to the question about "Responsible Authorities" for the effect of the new Law of Ukraine "On State Prosecution" No. 1697-VII dated 14 October 2014.

United States

United States

A land use and zoning decision which results in denying or approving the request – can be the subject of some form of judicial review. The applicant may appeal a denial to an administrative review body (such as a local Board of Zoning Appeals) or a state or federal court. Certain aggrieved, third parties may appeal a decision that resulted into approval of e an application.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

This is possible in situations where a party is aggrieved by a local authority’s decision to designate a certain use for the land. The decision on the development may be reviewed by the High Court in the event that one party believes that they have been treated unlawfully and makes the relevant application for review. In that case, that party can appeal to the High Court or the Administrative Court.