Schedule 1 - Hearings and Inquires Explained
A Hearing will explore the Acquiring Authority's justification for the Order and will consider all the documentation and evidence used by the Acquiring Authority to justify the case. Provision will be made for an informal hearing of the written evidence provided. This takes the form of a round the table discussion led by the Reporter.
This process is useful where there are particular issues that cannot be succinctly explained or clarified in writing or perhaps where there are a large number of issues to address, some of which may be more important than others. It enables the Reporter to ask direct questions to all parties, which may also include third parties such as the occupiers of neighbouring properties or local Councillors.
A Hearing will normally take a half day or whole day, and will be followed by a site visit by the Reporter with all interested parties in attendance.
An Inquiry (or Public Local Inquiry) is the formal mechanism to consider a proposal. The procedure involves both written and oral evidence, with opportunities for the cross examination of all individuals who give evidence.
An Inquiry is particularly useful where professional evidence is required, for example to demonstrate that using established technical assessments or knowledge that the development causes no overall or major harm. The principal parties are normally represented by solicitor or an advocate who call the expert witnesses to give their evidence and cross examine the other side. The Reporter will lead the Inquiry and listen to the responses given to any cross examination, in addition to considering the written evidence provided.
The Inquiry may only take one day, although significant preparation is normally required by all parties. Some Inquiries may go on considerable longer and several days or even weeks if the matter is particularly complex or if there are large numbers of expert witnesses and objectors.
During the Inquiry a site visit will normally be made by the Reporter and all interested parties.