Planning conditions exist to support development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms to proceed. They are a significant way of ensuring regulation and are therefore a useful tool for Local Planning Authorities (LPA’s) to control development.
There are, however, disadvantages, which often see developers laden with multiple conditions to be discharged prior to gaining permission to even commence their development; it can be an expensive and time-consuming exercise while challenging house builders to try and reach completion prior to planning permission running out.
In order to ease the strain on LPA’s and developers alike and to reduce the delay between planning permission being granted and the commencement of work on the site, the Government has introduced the new regulations regarding pre-commencement conditions.
From the beginning of this month there are new regulations regarding pre-commencement conditions. The changes now mean that:
- LPA’s must get written agreement between the applicant (and Rural Solutions acting as your planning agent) and themselves to attach pre-commencement conditions to a full planning permission.
- The time limit for comments back to the LPA with regard their ask on agreeing pre-commencement conditions is 10 working days.
What are pre-commencement planning conditions?
A pre-commencement condition is defined in section 100ZA(8) as a condition imposed on a grant of planning permission which must be complied with
(a) before any building or operation comprised in the development is begun, or
(b) where the development consists of a material change of use of any buildings or other land, before the change of use is begun
What do the changes mean?
Simply speaking, planning permission will no longer be granted subject to a pre-commencement condition without a written agreement of said terms from the applicant (While the new legislation has room for exclusions, none has been prescribed as of yet). If there is no written agreement by the applicant, planning permission may be granted subject to a pre-commencement condition providing that the applicant has been notified but not responded by the specified date.
What options are available to the applicant if they have received a notice from the local planning authority seeking to impose a pre-commencement condition?
The applicant can:
• provide written agreement (within the time limit) to the terms of the proposed pre-commencement condition, in which case the local planning authority may grant planning permission subject to that pre-commencement condition.
• provide comments (within the time limit) on the proposed pre-commencement condition, in which case that condition cannot be imposed.
• choose not respond (i.e. remain silent). If there is no response by the date given in the notice the local planning authority may grant planning permission subject to the terms of the pre-commencement condition specified in the notice.
• indicate (within the time limit) that they do not agree to the terms of the proposed pre-commencement condition, in which case the local planning authority may then either:
a. grant planning permission without the pre-commencement condition,
b. seek written agreement to an alternative pre-commencement condition, or
c. refuse to grant permission (if it considers that the disputed pre-commencement condition is necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms).
The intended aim is to try and reduce ‘the number of unnecessary and otherwise unacceptable conditions attached to permissions’ while ensuring that ‘conditions are only imposed where they meet the tests that are currently set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.’