We are sure those of you involved in the day to day management of your submitted planning applications will know that as from 1st October 2018 new regulations came into effect regarding pre commencement planning permission conditions. These are conditions that must be discharged by the planning authority following the submission of technical information prior to any part of the approved development being undertaken.

We are told these new rules will help in reducing planning application implementation bureaucracy. Indeed, we thought we’d let you all know that in practice, the situation hasn’t really changed. Isn’t that a surprise?!

The new rules require that pre commencement conditions should only be used with the written agreement of the applicant. We understand exclusions to this are to be made, but as yet no details on these have been released.

Confusingly, planning permission may also be granted subject to pre commencement conditions without the applicant’s written agreement. However, the planning authority must notify you of its intention to impose a pre commencement condition to which there is a time limit for responding. If you do not respond, you will be deemed to have agreed to the pre commencement condition. So, if you wish to object to the imposition of the condition or wish to comment on the scope of the condition, you must do so within the strict 10 working day timeframe.

If you decide you do not agree to the proposed pre commencement condition, the planning authority can amend it, remove it or surprisingly, make it a post commencement condition. If none of these apply, planning permission can be refused.

Confused? We are not surprised! In effect, we are finding that planning authorities are still asking for pre commencement conditions and whilst some accept negotiations on the scope of the conditions, some will not. Essentially though, if you don’t agree to the imposition of the pre commencement conditions, planning permission is likely to be refused.

So how has the system become more efficient? I guess, from the above you would have to agree that it hasn’t and yet another rule change is simply “tinkering”, failing to deliver any improvement to the complexity of obtaining your planning permission and implementing your development. Will we ever see the improved planning system that is so desperately needed to deliver the much publicised market and affordable housing the UK needs and the commercial development required to help re-invigorate the economy post the Brexit winter? We doubt it.

At FoddyConsult, we love trying to figure all this out though, so if you are in need of professional planning advice on this subject, feel free to give us a call on 0208 334 0203 or drop us an email at Suzanne@foddyconsult.co.uk